This is a goldfinch egg. The goldfinch is a beautiful bird with a bright red face and a yellow wing patch. Their Latin name is Carduelis carduelis, which derives from the Latin word of thistle, carduus). The goldfinch gets this name because its long fine beaks allows it to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels.
Because of this association with prickly thistles – and because of its red plumage – the goldfinch became associated with Christ and the crucifixion. The goldfinch is said to appear in more than 500 Medieval and Renaissance paintings, many of them depicting Mary with the infant Jesus.
One of the most famous is Raphael’s Madonna del Cardellino (The Madonna of the Goldfinch) which was painted in 1507. At first sight it seems as if Jesus and his cousin, John the Baptist, are innocently playing with the beautiful bird. In fact, they are innocently playing, but this particular bird has been included to indicate to the viewer that things will be different in the future.
‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’
‘Father, help us to face the future trusting in you. Amen.’