The Library

Animals > Geese

This oak panel shows two geese with their necks intertwined and bells hanging from their beaks.  Below is the Sacred Monogram, IHS, the Latinized version of the Greek IHC, the first letters of the name Jesus.


The goose does not often make an appearance in woodcarving other than as the bird in the jaws of a fleeing fox, although there are some misericords illustrating the futility of spending time on activities such as shoeing a goose.  The story most commonly associated with geese refers to the Capitoline geese in Rome that smelt or heard the Gauls climbing the hill to the Capitol in the night and cackled so loudly that they awoke the Romans who successfully fought off the invaders.


The geese on this panel, however, have to be read in a religious context because of the Sacred Monogram.  They symbolize watchfulness as they are always ready to honk at any intruder or enemy and the bells draw attention to the clarion call they will make.  The entwined necks denote devotion and fidelity.  The underlying meaning of this visually delightful panel is that one should always remain alert to the dangers of evil for oneself and one’s flock while standing firmly on the teachings of Christianity.