SINCE BOBBY JINDAL, a traditional Catholic and sometime New Oxford Review contributor, today became the eighty-fourth Governor of Louisiana (sixty-first of the republican era), we decided to share with you the interesting development regarding the Louisiana state flag. Louisiana’s flag consists of a pelican displayed with a scroll bearing the state motto of “Union, Justice, and Confidence”. Heraldically, the pelican is known as a “pelican-in-her-piety” depicting the mother pelican piercing her breast to offer her own blood as sustenance to her children. The “pelican-in-her-piety” is a traditionally Christian symbol meant to parallel Christ’s sacrifice, and so this is why you sometimes see representations of pelicans in churches.
It seems that from about the 1900s onwards, the droplets of blood on the pelican’s breast gradually ceased to be displayed, somewhat diminishing the Christological nature of the state emblem. However, one astute eighth-grader at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma, the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish (remember that in la Louisiane counties are called parishes), noticed this problem and informed his representative in the state’s lower house. In April 2006, the Louisiana State Legislature passed an act requiring three drops of blood to be depicted on the pelican, both in the flag and the state seal, and so the significance of the the pelican-in-her-piety is now restored.