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Peacocks in Sacred Art

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).