Q. Why does the peacock appear in some works of Catholic sacred art?
A. The peacock held symbolic value in Christian art because of its associations in ancient pre-Christian cultures that were adopted by Christian artists and writers. For various peoples, the peacock was viewed as a guardian of royalty or a bird associated with paradise and the Tree of Life. The Greeks believed that the flesh of the peacock did not decay after death (a theory that St. Augustine once tested).