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Village of Tal-Pietà (Malta)

Pieta, Tal-Pieta

Last modified: 2013-12-09 by rob raeside
Keywords: malta | pietà | pelican (white) |
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[Village of Pieta' (Malta)] 3:5 image by Dirk Schönberger, 28 October 2002

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From the Local Council website:

Tal-Pietà lies on a promontory on the North side of Marsamxett Harbour and is one of the four inlets to this harbour. It is made up of the two towns of Tal-Pietà and Guardamangia. Tal-Pietà, which was originally known as il-Qrajten (the horn) because of the shape of the promontory on which it lies, owes its name to the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows [Maltese Pietà], which was built two years after the great plague of 1590, on the site of a disused cemetery. (...)

Santiago Dotor, 8 March 2006


Blazon: Sable a pelican in her piety Argent. (...) The heraldic expression 'a pelican in her piety' assumes a pelican sitting in a nest with several ducklings, feeding them by letting some blood from her chest, thus vulning herself.
Željko Heimer
, 13 November 2002

That makes this flag crypto-canting, because the canting can only be understood if you know that the pelican is shown in her piety. For the meaning and origin of the pelican in her piety, please refer to my lengthy contribution regarding the Arbois (Jura, France) arms.
Ivan Sache
, 13 November 2002

From the Local Council website:

The Coat of Arms of Tal-Pietà.- The Arms are newly designed and are Sable, a Pelican in her piety argent, goutaned de san [sic]. On a black shield, a silver heraldic pelican is shown wounding herself to feed her young with the blood from her breast. This is a heraldic representation of the name of this locality.

Santiago Dotor, 8 March 2006

The pelican was said to feed its chickens in times of famine by its own blood. In fact the feathers at the pelican’s throat turn red during the brooding season. Though there is no primary source there exists a legend of a pair of pelicans having no food. Therefore they tore off their throats and fed their chickens with their own blood. The chickens survived, the parents however died. Therefore the pelican was among Christians a symbol for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, giving his blood for whole mankind. The Italian word is “pieta”.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 18 October 2008