Eagle lectern

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Eagle lectern at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, England

An eagle lectern is a lectern in the shape of an eagle on whose outstretched wings the Bible rests.[1] They are very common in Christian churches and cathedrals.

The symbolism of the eagle derived from the belief that the bird was capable of staring into the sun and that Christians similarly were able to gaze unflinchingly at the revelation of the divine word.[2] Alternatively, the eagle was believed to be the bird that flew highest in the sky and was therefore closest to heaven, and symbolised the carrying of the word of God to the four corners of the world.[3]

Eagle lectern at St Nicholas Church, Blakeney, Norfolk, England

The eagle is the symbol used to depict John the Apostle, whose writing most clearly witnesses the light and divinity of Christ. In art, John, as the presumed author of the Gospel, is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height to which he rose in the first chapter of his gospel. The eagle came to represent the inspiration of the gospels.[4]

The tradition of using eagle-shaped lecterns predates the Reformation. Medieval examples survive in a number of English churches, including the church of St Margaret in Kings Lynn, and the church of St Mary in Ottery St Mary. The Dunkeld Lectern is a notable eagle lectern.

Trivia[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ How to read a church, Richard Taylor, London 2003, ISBN 1-84413-053-3
  2. ^ How to read a church, Richard Taylor, London 2003, ISBN 1-84413-053-3
  3. ^ A Guide to Church Furniture, Eric R. Delderfield, Newton Abbot 1966
  4. ^ Signs and Symbols in Christian Art, George Ferguson, New York 1966