Birds frequently appear on the margins of a medieval manuscript page. In general a bird often represented a soul; this is an ancient belief. Goldfinches became a symbol of the Passion and are often found perched among the painted flowers on the margins of an illuminated page that illustrates this story.
In this illumination, I have incorporated a few of the various symbolic aspects of the flowers that are associated with the goldfinch. First, the background of the piece is stained brown with walnut ink, a sign of the earth. The European Goldfinch is the soul or a Divine Messenger and is perched on a Pearl of Great Price. White hawthorn blooms are reminiscent of suffering. The blue Forget-me-nots are to remind us that in this earthly life in the midst of pain and suffering, the soul clings to what is most precious.
Thoreau wrote, “I rejoice that there are owls”. However not everyone has rejoiced over owls. To the Early Church Fathers, owls were wholly evil. This notion came in part from various biblical references that describe owls as being unclean birds, occupants of wastelands and symbols of desolation. Oddly, owls could also symbolize the Light of Christ choosing to rescue the lost sinner. The owl in this context usually appears in the border of a manuscript’s page that surrounds a scene of the crucifixion.
My illumination is composed of the following: The brown walnut ink background represents the earth. The acanthus is for beauty, the owl is wisdom. Sweetpea flowers symbolize a journey, while borage (blue flower) stands for courage. A daisy is for innocence and the rose for love. The heartsease, (known in medieval times as the Trinity flower) on the right represents the Triune God. Therefore, in your journey through this life, walk in beauty guided by wisdom, with courage, innocence, love, in the light of the knowledge of God