The Curt Jester tells us the story of the Capybara, a type of
fish meat you can eat during lent:
When the Spanish missionaries found the capybara in Brazil during the 16th century, they wrote to the Pope to ask – there’s an animal here that’s scaly but also hairy, spends most of its time in the water but occasionally comes on land; can we classify it as a fish (and thus, the indigenous people could continue to eat it during Lent)?. Not having a clear description of the animal (and not wanting the petitioners to starve), the Pope agreed and declared it to be a fish.
This illustrates the difference between the world today, when the image would have been sent by cell phone camera and an answer given at once and a world where communication takes months each way.
I hate to admit I never heard of the animal nor its Lenten significance but I’m reminded of the following passage in scripture:
As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Mark 2:23-27
The Pope’s ruling was living this passage, but as far as I’m concerned it’s still a rat.