Home

Browse New Titles
Browse by Subject
Browse by Title
Title Index
Author Index


Ministry & Liturgy
Visual Arts Awards

Celebrating
The Lectionary

Liturgical Catechesis

Software

Sign Up for News
Request Print Catalog
Print Order Form
Reprint Permission
Annual Reprint License
Customer Service

Events
Authors & Writers
Advertisers
Bookstores
Media

News Releases

Artists Directory
Parish Resource Directory
Classified Ads
Links

About the Company
Employment
Contact Us

Discussion Forums
    ML Home
 

Evangelist Symbols

by Paul Turner


The human, lion, ox and eagle are symbols of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These symbols adorn many works of art, buildings and objects used in worship. Each may identify one evangelist, or the four may represent the Gospel as a whole. In addition, the four symbols taken together represent the mystery of Christ’s life. They recall in turn the birth, sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

The symbols derive from the opening of the Book of Ezekiel. There the prophet envisions four living creatures in the middle of a glowing fire from a stormy north wind. The faces of the creatures resemble a human being, a lion, an ox and an eagle (1:10). Their mystery and their movement made such an impact on the prophet that Christian generations have seen in their appearance a foreshadowing of the Gospels of Jesus Christ. The figures appear again in Revelation 4:7.

The human being (sometimes rendered as an angel) signifies Matthew, who opens his story with the human origins of Jesus’ genealogy. The lion, according to legend, sleeps with eyes open, making it a symbol of resurrection. It depicts Mark, whose Gospel begins with the leonine John the Baptist in the desert. Luke’s account of the infancy of Jesus places the child in the Temple with Zechariah, a priest who offered sacrifice of animals including oxen. The horns of the beast may represent the old and new covenant, each with its own sacrifice. John, the evangelist whose work intently gazes on the eternal Word who shattered the darkness with his light, recalls the eagle that flies face into the sun. In this way, tradition has assigned each evangelist a proper symbol.

What do YOU Think?
Send an e-mail to ML Editor
or post an entry on the ML Current Issue Discussion Board. (All submissions become the property of RPI and may be edited for length.) 

Copyright © 2000, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.  For permission e-mail info@rpinet.com.
Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.

| Top |




Home | About Resource Publications | Contact us
What's New on This Site | Site Guide
Copyright © 1995–2006 Resource Publications
160 E. Virginia Street #290, San Jose, CA 95112-5876 
E-mail: info@rpinet.com
Toll Free: 888-273-7782,  Phone: 408-286-8505,  Fax: 408-287-8748