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Evangelist portrait of St. Mark in a 16th century manuscript | by Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland
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Evangelist portrait of St. Mark in a 16th century manuscript

In most of the standard medieval iconographic compositions, St. Mark the Evangelist is presented accompanied by a lion which sometimes is with wings. The lion figure is present presumably because his Gospel emphasizes the royal dignity of Christ, and the lion is the figure representing his royalty. He is shown most of the times seated with a book or pen presenting his character of Evangelist and secretary of St. Peter. In some occasions, only the figure of the Lion, as one of his attributes, is presented.


St. Mark is known as the author of the second Gospel in the New Testament. This Gospel is dedicated to the life of Christ after his baptism, to his death and resurrection, focusing particularly on the last weeks of his life. Tradition says that St. Mark wrote this Gospel receiving the materials directly by St. Peter whilst accompanying him as a secretary on a journey to Rome. He has died in Alexandria where he also founded a church in this city. Several centuries after his death, his body was carried off by Venetian sailors bringing it to Venice where St. Mark became the patron saint of this city which adopts his emblem, the lion, as its own.


Link to “St. Mark the Evangelist” set


Link to "The four Evangelists" collection


Manuscript title: Book of Hours of Agnes le Dieu


Origin: Bourges (France)


Period: 16th century


Image source: Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum, Cod. 102, p. 26v – Book of Hours of Agnes le Dieu (

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Taken on October 11, 2012