A pope’s proclamation that bunnies are fish, so can be eaten for Lent may never have happened
Domesticated bunnies may need a new origin story.
Researchers thought they knew when rabbits were tamed. An often-cited tale holds that monks in Southern France domesticated rabbits after Pope Gregory issued a proclamation in A.D. 600 that fetal rabbits, called laurices, are fish and therefore can be eaten during Lent.
There’s just one problem: The story isn’t true. Not only does the legend offer little logic for rabbits being fish, but the proclamation itself is bogus, according to a new study of rabbit domestication.
“Pope Gregory never said anything about rabbits or laurices, and there is no evidence they were ever considered ‘fish,’” says Evan Irving-Pease, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford.
He and his colleagues discovered that scientists had mixed up Pope Gregory with St. Gregory of Tours. St. Gregory made a passing reference to a man named Roccolenus who in “the days of holy Lent … often ate