Mass on the Back of a Whale


This is a picture I took while visiting the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA.  The explanation simply said it was Mass celebrated on the back of a whale.  I googled Mass on the back of a whale and couldn't find enough information to satisfy me.  I learned that there is a legend, from the 9th century, of St. Brendan (Celtic saint) who celebrated Mass on the back of a whale.  When St. Brendan elevated the consecrated host, all the fish in the sea, who were swimming around the whale, stopped, stuck their heads out of the water to reverence the Lord, and turned around and swam in the opposite direction.

Like all myths and legends, the truth is lost.  However, there is some truth, or the myth would never have initiated in the first place. 

I find it interesting that Mass would have been celebrated on the back of a whale.  I'm not surprised at the actions of God's creatures towards their Creator.  It's the location of the Mass.  Why the whale?

Living on Cape Cod, I know the history of whaling here.  I know the livelihood of many depended upon the whale.  But does that warrant its use as an altar? 

In a way, I can see it.  Whales were sacrificed, so to speak, so that man may live.  You could say that like Jesus, whales gave their lives, so that others may live.  The difference, however, is that Jesus willingly gave up His life, whereas the whales didn't. 

Vive la difference!

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