Five thousand years ago pigeons, called doves, were domesticated as a source of food and companionship. Soon they were harnessed as a messenger. It was a pigeon that delivered the results of the ﬁrst marathon. A pigeon returned to Noah on the ark with an olive branch to signal that the great ﬂood was receding. A pigeon descended as the holy spirit during Christ’s baptism.
The ﬁve pigeons portrayed here are from the Book of Columba, a little known biblical age text that included parables with pigeons as spiritual guides, advisors and symbols. The references to doves in the bible are all that remains of this rich history of pigeons and religion.
These ﬁve altar pieces are designed to accept votive offerings to these pigeons saints. A votive offering is given in the hope that the chosen ﬁgure will work miracles, or to thank the ﬁgure for miracles already worked.
Visitors who wanted to make an offering could purchase a handful of healthy bird feed and place it inside the altar of their choice. The offering was carried off by local birds, which benefited from the natural food that is not as damaging as the processed grains they usually eat from our leftovers and throw-aways. If visitors preferred to take away an icon of one of the ﬁve pigeons, they could purchase one of the capsules and see which pigeon flew across their path.