January 26, 2014

Aerial Attack at the Vatican

Pope peace doves release

In an era where anything visually offbeat involving a famous person or institution is hyped beyond recognition, the attack at the Vatican yesterday in broad daylight before a packed St. Peter’s Square was surprisingly interesting. What I’m talking about was the assault, perpetrated by a crow and a seagull, on a set of peace doves immediately after their ritual release by a pair of joyful children standing with the Pope. And just to thicken the sauce, the Pope had just finished a prayer for peace for the violence-rocked Ukraine.

Pope peace doves crow chase 3

Pope peace doves crow attacks 4

What makes the attack so compelling is how thoroughly ripe it is for symbolization. (I shudder to think what this meant to the superstitious.) With the children, so proud of themselves, launching those creatures into harm’s way, the scenario just begs for its own parable about good and evil.

Pope peace dove seagull attack

Material for the plot include the colors and color combinations; the larger scavengers preying on the benevolent smaller; and then the fact, even after one found itself locked in its aggressor’s grip, that the doves escaped. If this last element suggests a positive ending, it’s hard not to see the scenes — beamed around the world — as metaphor about contemporary culture. These acts of terror.

(photos: Gregorio Borgia/AP caption 1: Pope Francis is joined by two children who release doves during the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square. caption 2: Watch out: A dove which was freed by children flanked by Pope Francis is chased by a black crow. caption 3: Crow fought the wings of a dove: While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died.caption 4: Not getting away: A dove which was freed by children flanked by Pope Francis is attacked by a seagull.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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