In the province of Perugia, Umbria in the 13th century a man was walking through the Spoleto valley with friends; his encounter with a flock of Jackdaws is the basis of this new watercolour painting.

Watercolour painting of Two Jackdaws called Monaclae
The Jackdaws of Bevagna

In the description of the event the historian notes how the man encountered a flock of crows near Bevagna and passed through their midst.

Furthermore that they stretched their necks, spread their wings, opened their beaks and looked at him..

..coeperunt extendere collum, protendere alas, aperire os et in illum respicere. Ipse vero transiens per medium..

Thomas of Celano, Vita Prima, Caput XXI

The text describes the crows as ‘monaclae’ which for the purposes of this painting I have taken as Jackdaws, since their taxonomic name appears better related (monedula) to the writer’s description, than that of the magpie.

Having observed Jackdaws over many years, to walk unhindered through a group of these lively, social and skittish birds is – miraculous. The red gesture suggests the gentle, passing presence of the Stigmatic.

In the collection of St Peter’s College, Oxford.