Sources : Martineta

Gerald of Wales [c. 1146 – c. 1223] (Topographia Hibernica, Distinction 1, chapter 13): There are also found in this country the small birds called martinets, which are less than the blackbird, and here, as elsewhere, rare, frequenting the rivers. They are short, like quails, and dive in the water after the small fish on which they feed; and though in other respects they retain their general character, their color varies. For degenerating here, they have the belly white with a dark-colored back, while in other countries the belly is red, with red beak and feet. Like parrots and peacocks, the back and wings are distinguished by their brilliant shade of green, which is very lustrous and beautiful. It is remarkable in these little birds that, if they are preserved in a dry place, when dead, they never decay; and if they are put among clothes and other articles, they preserve them from the moth and give them a pleasant odor. What is still more wonderful, if, when dead, they are hung up by their beaks in a dry situation, they change their plumage every year, as if they were restored to life, as though the vital spark still survived and vegetated through some mysterious remains of its energy. Thus holy men, who are dead to the world, and, as it were, laid up in a dry place, and inflamed with the ardor of charity, purify and perfect themselves and those who are united to them from being vitiated by the corruption of sin, and render them conspicuous by the good odor of their virtues. And while they hang from above by the most intimate union of soul, casting off the old garment of the flesh, and clothed in new virtues, they are changed and renewed for the better from time to time, putting off the old man, and putting on the new. For that is the highest pitch of excellence, when the former acts are surpassed by being followed by those which are better. - [Forester translation, 1863]