The Unicorn Triumphant is a reference to the final tapestry of the seven Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters, the medieval branch of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, a set of tapestries also known as The Hunt of the Unicorn.

The Unicorn in Captivity

The Wikipedia entry on the Tapestries is here.
The museum’s online tour through the Tapestries is here.

The seven tapestries depict the hunting of a unicorn, who is killed by a spear in the side. In the final tapestry, the unicorn is alive again. This tapestry, called The Unicorn in Captivity, is the tapestry I think of as The Unicorn Triumphant. One symbolic interpretation of the tapestries, and the one I mean to reference, is that they portray the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ, whom the unicorn symbolizes. The final tapestry thus portrays Christ’s Resurrection.

The Unicorn Triumphant, to me, means that Christ, the pure and sinless Son of the Father, is alive again. We are an Easter people, because Christ is triumphant over death and all evil.

In addition, the Unicorn Tapestries are my favourite visual artwork, and when I studied at NYU my favourite place to rest and recollect was sitting in the Unicorn Room at the Cloisters, gazing at the images of the unicorn in the Tapestries. Referencing them reminds me of that time, and also expresses my love of the Middle Ages and of fantasy stories.

Finally, The Hunt of the Unicorn shows how art can lead us to a hidden encounter with Christ.

4 thoughts on “Why the Unicorn?

  1. Greetings in Christ, Cole,
    I happened to catch your interview on the Journey Home last night (I record the shows) and I can not begin to tell you how much I was moved and delighted by your story. I appreciate so much that you have always been a devout Christian and yet discovered through the grace of God via Tolkein and Lewis the fullness of faith in the one true holy catholic and apostolic church.
    I find myself continuing to marvel each day as to why and how it took me so long to find my way home as well, but you articulated so very well the process. I especially was moved by your comment about your imagination having already accepted the truth before your intellect. I actually found myself commenting out loud, with “absolutely!” and “wow” and various and sundry other positive affirmations.
    God bless you in your efforts at an apostolate (one of those words with which I was not even familiar three years ago…) and I will lift up prayers for discernment.

  2. Hello Cole,

    I enjoyed your interview on The Journey Home. At the end of the show it was mentioned that you are interested in forming a residential community of catholic artists. Well that person is not me; so “not to worry” I am not looking for a room. I am however after something else.

    Measure of Artistic Gifts

    I have not graduated from preschool stick figure representations of the human and when on the dance floor painfully demonstrate a lack of rhythm. Despite these limitations I do have an idea for a book that would make a great TV series. Resident writers of depth and periscopic vision are needed to tell the saga. Please send me the contact information of a capable writer(s) that wants to create the 21st Century version of Ulysses.

    BTW, my favorite medieval painting is the Battle of San Romano, particularly the third panel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_San_Romano

    Andy Cote

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