Christian art and medals often depicts the four Evangelists by a figure: Winged Man (Matthew), Lion (Mark), Ox (Luke) and Eagle (John). Below are two medals from the Rosa Mystica Medals collection that show these representations of the four Evangelists.
Where did this practice come from and why?
These figures correspond to Ezekiel’s vision of “four living beings” from the Old Testament (Ezekiel 1:10). Each being had a face of a human being, a lion, an ox and an eagle. In the Book of Revelation of the New Testament in Chapter 4, John the Evangelist refers to “four living creatures” who resembled a human, a lion, a calf and an eagle.
So why is each evangelist associated with one of the figures? Matthew is associated with the Winged Man because his Gospel focuses on Jesus’ humanity. Mark is associated with the Lion because his Gospel emphasizes the majesty of Christ and the lion has traditionally been regarded the king of animals. Luke is shown as an Ox because his Gospel focuses on the sacrificial aspects of Jesus’ death, and the ox has been a sacrificial animal for Judaism and Roman paganism. John is associated with the Eagle because his Gospel stresses the Incarnation of the Divine Logos, and the eagle is a symbol of that which comes from above. To learn more about our Four Gospel Crosses or other medals in our collection please visit our website at www.rosamysticamedals.com.