The Gospel of Mark, (Mark the evangelist too) is symbolically depicted in Christian literature and art by a lion. Each of the gospel writers have a symbol. This is appealing to me–helps to remember certain attributes of the writer or what is written. We still do it today.
Twitter. A cute bird flying. What does that say about what it symbolizes? Tweet–a short chirpy, 140 word expression on a hot topic.
Amazon–has that nice arrow pointing underneath it, letting me know that I can get everything from “A” to “Z” with just one click. Symbols. People like them.
Here is what I gleaned from reading on the gospel symbols:
These symbols originated from the four-sided creatures described by the prophet Ezekiel 600 years before the birth of Christ. “Within it (a storm wind) were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: their form was human, but each had four faces and four wings … Each of the four had the face of a man, but on the right side was the face of a lion, and on the left side the face of an ox and finally each had the face of an eagle.” (Ezekiel 1:5, 6 & 10)
St Irenaeus (140-202 A.D.) in his treatise “Adversus Haereses” likened this prophet’s creature to the four Evangelists because of the content of their Gospels and their particular focus on Jesus.
St. Jerome, in the latter part of the fourth century, attributed these symbols to the four evangelists also. Who really knows…who got the ball rolling on using Ezekiel’s creatures as the symbols, but these two did write about it!
The image attributed to Mark is that of the winged lion. His symbol comes from Mark’s description of John the Baptist’s voice “crying out in the wilderness” upon hearing the Word of God (Mark 1:3). His voice is said to have sounded like that of a roaring lion.
The winged lion, which signifies leadership and royalty, is therefore seen as an appropriate symbol for the Son of God.
The Gospel of Matthew begins with the Incarnation, so his symbol is a man. Luke stressed the theme of sacrifice, so the figure of the ox was associated with him. And John’s Gospel, according to St. Jerome, achieved spiritual heights and therefore soared like an eagle.
Now–it gets even more fun or interesting… Some cities and churches wanted an official patron saint. ( this is condensed version) And to do this–you need remains. You can “dig” deeper on this if you like. What if you wanted to name Mark your patron saint and you did not have his remains??? (Maybe they liked the idea of having a LION on all their “stuff.!”)
Well they stole the remains (from the city of Alexandria) with the help of two Greek monks! Yes. That is how the story goes. If you visit Venice, Italy–you will see all kinds of winged lions to display their pride for their patron saint, Mark–the writer of the gospel. His remains–supposedly are there, along with the symbol. Lions, Lions, everywhere.
The winged LION–a symbol for the Messiah. Powerful. His authority is roaring. In Revelation 5:5, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See the Lion of the tribe of Judah, The Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Prophecy fulfilled. (see Genesis 49:8)
Mark was not “LION”, “Jesus is the Son of God.” Tweet that.