Jeffrey Vallance 
  Chapelle de Poulet



Cock betrayalRoosters in the catacombsThe Good Shepherd with a roosterDemons tremble at cockcrowPoultry: Emblem of ChristianityMaster of courtesyAncient chicken archetype

In the New Testament, Jesus foretold of his betrayal by Peter when he said, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” It came to pass, and Peter wept bitterly. This made the rooster a symbol for both vigilance and betrayal. The Cock That Crowed Thrice standing atop a column is one of the symbols of the Passion and Arma Christi (the torture instruments of Christ). Images of roosters are often found in Christian tombs, such as the two red roosters with a cross in the center that appears on an arch in the Tomb of the Cocks south of Jerusalem. A rooster also appears in the catacombs of Rome with the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, with a rooster at his feet. The rooster is the emblem of watchfulness, courage, virility, foresight, and reliability, and he heralds the dawn as a symbol of solar and spiritual resurrection. The 4th-century Christian poet Prudentius wrote, “They say that the night-wandering demons, who rejoice in dunnest shades, at the crowing of the cock, tremble and scatter in sore affright.” In the Catholic monastic nightly liturgy, ending at dawn, the Morning Prayer is known as Gallicinium, or Cockcrow. In 19th-century France, Catholic priests used holy water sprinklers in the shape of roosters to anoint their congregants. The heraldic crest for Jesus College in Cambridge, England consists of three rooster heads.

In the 6th century, Saint Gregory the Great declared the rooster the emblem of Christianity, and, furthermore, in the 9th century, Pope Nicholas I decreed that an effigy of a rooster must be placed on every church steeple. It is a spectacular sight to see carved roosters atop stave churches in Norway. In the Netherlands, weather vanes include golden roosters. The golden rooster is a symbol for Christ breaking the power of the darkness, bringing redemption, and heralding a new day by his resurrection. In Mexico during the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), images of human skeletons and skulls, as well as skeletal figures of animals, including chickens, are integrated into festive decorations.

In the Book of Job, the rooster is the symbol of divine intelligence. The Talmud makes the rooster the Master of Courtesy because he not only heralds the sun with his crowing, but he also makes an example of courtesy toward his mate—when a rooster finds something to eat, he calls his hens over to eat first.

For some time I’d known about the Bible verse in which Jesus compares himself to a mother hen, however I wanted to find out how chickens fared within other religious traditions. But I was completely stunned to find that every major and minor religion that I explored had significant chicken mythology and rituals—so much so that the chicken appears to be a universal religious figure! The chicken archetype is ancient and deep-rooted within the collective unconscious.

Jeffrey VallanceSt. Peter’s Cock (1990) Acrylic on paper, framed 12 x 9.5 inches



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Hotel is a magazine for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. The magazine is bi-annual, the online archive is updated periodically.

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