“But little by little he gained courage, flew close to him, and drew with his little bill a thorn that had become imbedded in the brow of the Crucified One. And as he did this there fell on his breast a drop of blood from the face of the Crucified One;—it spread quickly and floated out and colored all the little fine breast feathers.
“Then the Crucified One opened his lips and whispered to the bird: “Because of thy compassion, thou hast won all that thy kind have been striving after, ever since the world was created.”
As soon as the bird had returned to his nest his young ones cried to him: “Thy breast is red! Thy breast feathers are redder than the roses!”
“It is only a drop of blood from the poor man’s forehead,” said the bird; “it will vanish as soon as I bathe in a pool or a clear well.”
But no matter how much the little bird bathed, the red color did not vanish—and when his little young ones grew up, the blood-red color shone also on their breast feathers, just as it shines on every Robin Redbreast’s throat and breast until this very day.”
Christ Legends, by Selma Lagerlöf