From the manger to the cross . . . Some animals at the Nativity also played background roles throughout Christ's life leading to the events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Bible specifically mentions the donkey, rooster, and the dove in the Crucifixion and Resurrection stories.
A touching folk legend tells about the robin's presence at the Crucifixion. On Good Friday, a robin was feasting on morsels dropped by travelers and traders near the gates of Jerusalem. A strange commotion attracted its curiosity. A throng of soldiers and common people were shouting and throwing stones at three men carrying crosses.
The curious robin followed the crowd to Calvary, where it saw two of the men strapped to crosses. The third man was nailed to a cross. The kind, weary eyes of this man caught the robin’s attention.
The robin flew to the man with the kind eyes and tried to pull the nails out of His bleeding hands. The little bird tugged and tugged, but even with all its might, its beak was not strong enough to loosen the nails.
Unwilling to give up, the little bird flew to the man’s head and began pulling out the thorns piercing His forehead. Some soldiers tried to kill the robin with stones, but a centurion warned them not to harm the little bird.
The robin stayed with Christ until His death. Shortly before His last breath, Christ blessed the robin with a red breast. The bird’s breast feathers, stained with Christ’s blood would always remain red as a sign that people would forever remember the bird’s compassion, courage, and love.
For more stories about the donkey, rooster, and dove, read Menagerie at the Manger, which follows the stories of these animals from the manger to the cross during the Lenten season.