The Evangelists

St. Luke and the symbol of the OxBelow the drum of the cupola in the four triangular spaces, Prof. Bucmaniuk painted the four writers of the Gospels, and below them, their symbols. Towards the end of the third century, or early in the fourth, Christians began associating the symbols of a man, a lion, an ox an eagle with the Evangelists. The tradition became fixed by the Biblical scholar St. Jerome (340-420), who linked St. Matthew with the man, St. Mark with the lion, St. Luke with the ox, and St. John with the eagle. This symbolic association is based especially on the New Testament Book of Revelation, where St. John describes his vision of the heavenly throne and the creatures surrounding it. “The first creature resembled a lion, the second an ox; the third had the face of a man, while the fourth looked like an eagle in flight” (Rev 4:7).

St. Matthew and the symbol of ManThe man is the symbol of St. Matthew, because he begins his Gospel with the human origins of Jesus Christ, tracing his genealogy from Abraham.

St. Mark and the symbol of the LionThe lion is the symbol of St. Mark, who begins his Gospel with John the Baptizer, who “appeared in the desert, proclaiming For St. Luke, the symbol is the ox, the sacrificial animal of the Old Testament, since Luke begins his gospel with the sacrifice of Zechariah in the Temple.

 

The eagle is the symbol of St. John, who begins his Gospel, as an St. John and the symbol of the Eagleeagle in flight, rising to divine heights and proclaiming: “In the beginning was the Word!”

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