The Stork

Stork devouring a serpent, ca.1224-59, pulpit, cathedral of Sessa Aurunca

Stork devouring a serpent, ca.1224-59, pulpit, cathedral of Sessa Aurunca

The stork is a gregarious bird. Having no call, it converses with the clatter of its beak. Led by a pair of crows, storks fly across the seas; they go to Asia, where they herald the spring. Returning each year to nest in the same place, they warm their broods with feathers they pull from their breasts. In their old age, they are fed by their children, who remember their parents’ solicitous attention. They are the enemies of serpents, which they catch in their beaks, and eat.

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The small figure of the Stork devouring a serpent adorns the corner of one of the six capitals of the pulpit in the cathedral of Sessa Aurunca. Its placement allows for a dynamic composition in which the stork, its wings splayed to conform to the concave shape of the capital, twists its head back to pull at the serpent it holds in its bill. Given its context on the pulpit, it is likely a symbol of triumph over sin.
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2 responses to “The Stork

  1. Since I attended Medieval literature, I find your 'bestiary' very interesting!Anything about the nightingale? I'm asking because of a poem I'm analyzing…

  2. Hmm, the nightingale. There isn't one in the cathedral, at least that I've seen, so I haven't done any research on it. But I'll have a look around to see what comes up. I'll keep you posted.

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