By Carol Glatz
A dove released during the Sunday Angelus is attacked by a seagull over St. Peter’s Square Jan. 26. (CNS photo/via Reuters – Alessandro Bianchi)
VATICAN CITY — Photographers in St. Peter’s Square yesterday caught the sad scene of a freshly released dove being attacked by a crow and seagull.
The annual dove launch by the pope and two children is meant to highlight the church’s call for peace in the world.
But, unfortunately, the forces of nature (namely hungry predator birds circling the square) usually prevail every year and the symbol of peace becomes prey.
I did a story several years ago that looked at the problem and an easy solution that would not appall bird lovers and would keep the children’s month of peace tradition flying.
Perhaps the advice and the story originally published Feb. 13, 2004, are worth repeating?
Wing and a prayer: Vatican doves sometimes turn chicken
By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The noble white dove has come to symbolize peace, fidelity, fraternity and hope, but the Vatican seems to have seen more than its fair share of doves suffering from a fear of flying.
Some might even say those doves are really just chicken.
What’s meant to be an impressive launch from the fifth-story window of the pope’s studio instead turns into a feathery fiasco. In 1998 both doves recoiled from their release and turned tail back inside the apostolic palace. Delighted, Pope John Paul II said, “It is clear this is a house of peace, because the doves don’t want to leave.”
This scene of one or both doves diving for papal cover has been repeated over the years. Most recently, on Jan. 25, call it stage-fright, call it premonition: One dove refused to leave the pope’s windowsill while the more gutsy of the two flew off to a grisly fate. One Italian newspaper reported the bird of peace was later found injured from a seagull attack.
The dove-launch over St. Peter’s Square occurs the last Sunday of every January after the pope’s Angelus.
The annual avian event started 25 years ago, said Father Antonio Magnotta, assistant to the Rome branch of Italy’s Catholic Action youth group. He said the group asked the Vatican if the kids could help celebrate what’s considered the month of peace with their bishop, Pope John Paul.
Each year, two children join the pope at the end of his noonday prayer, read a message of peace and help launch (Read More)