Moment of fusion

Robert Moss writes at beliefnet.com:

“Studying religious iconography in France in 2005, I became fascinated by the moment in the history of the Western imagination when the old pagan image of the Antlered One fused with that of the Christ. You can view the results on the facade of the great Gothic church of St-Eustache at Les Halles, once the site of the famous market. Look up and near the top, lording it over the gargoyles, you’ll find the figure of an antlered stag with the Calvary cross between his antlers. According to legend, St. Eustace (to give him the Anglo version of his name) was formerly a pagan Roman general named Placidus, who reveled in the hunt until one day he confronted a magnificent stag through whose deep eyes the Christ light shone. Christ spoke to him through the deer. The general gave up hunting and converted to the new religion. This moment of conversion through the agency of the deer has been memorialized in numerous painted and woven and sculpted images, including a marvelous 15th century painting by Pisanello that I viewed in the National Gallery in London and the 1501 engraving by Albrecht Durer…”

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/pisanello-the-vision-of-saint-eustace

Elaine Jordan writes at traditioninaction.org:

“Medieval symbolism

The stag is a symbol for Christ, Who tramples and destroys the Devil. Early bestiaries describe the stag as a relentless enemy of snakes. The stag was believed to pursue snakes into their holes or rock crevices, flushing them out by flooding the hole with the breath or water from its mouth, and devouring them.

Because the snake is a symbol of Satan, the stag’s war against them made the stag a symbol of Christ and the Catholic in his battle against the evil one. The water used to flush out snakes became symbolic of Christ’s wisdom and purity, the Gospel, and the water that flowed from His pierced Side on the Cross.

It was also believed that a stag that was ill or old would draw a snake out of hiding and swallow it. The stag then would drink large amounts of water to overcome the serpent’s poison, and thus be rejuvenated. So also, says the Bestiary, is the Christian saved, for ”sin’s trace is lost when in the baptismal font he is washed.” (Biedermann, 93)

When the stag is rejuvenated it sheds its horns after drinking from the spring, so those who drink from the Spring of the Living Waters are rejuvenated and shed their sins.

When stags must cross a river to find food, they swim in a line with one stag’s head resting on the rear of the one in front of it. When the front stag tires, it moves to the end of the line to rest. As the stags crossing a river help each other, so should the Catholic crossing through the difficulties of the spiritual life help others who grow weak or tired.”

From: hishighplaces.org on 15.7.15:

“A hind is a female deer that can place her back feet exactly where her front feet stepped.

Not one inch off! She is able to run with abandonment!

In times of danger, she is able to run securely and not get “off track.” The hind is able to scale unusually difficult terrain and elude predators.”

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