The release of a white dove is a traditional symbol of peace and tranquility. Like the olive branch, and more recently the peace symbol, the white dove is recognized worldwide as an icon of hope, love and friendship. That is, until it almost gets eaten by a seagull.
On the final Sunday of January, 2,000 young people from Rome marched to the Vatican for the annual Caravan of Peace. These youngsters, members of Youth Catholic Action, went to hear the Pope speak and watch him release two white doves following the Angelus prayer.
Accompanied by two children, Pope Benedict XVI stood before the crowds and released the first dove into St. Peter’s Square. Slightly disoriented, the bird eventually succeeded in flying up to a ledge above the Pontiff’s window.
The second bird was not so lucky. Soon after it had landed on a ledge below the window, it was attacked by a seagull who happened to be taking an afternoon flight through the famous plaza. Fortunately the dove, maybe owing to some sort of divine intervention, was able to fight off the much larger seagull and fly away.
Perhaps it could be time for the Vatican to reconsider the release of these birds given last year’s incident, when both doves turned and flew straight back in through the window. “They want to stay in the Pope’s home,” Pope Benedict said at the time, according to the Daily Mail.