We want to thank Fr. Frank Coady for the time he spent developing the art work around the crucifix at St. Elizabeth's. He started this project before he left St. Elizabeth's and it has finally been brought to completion. He spent many hours working with the artist to arrive at the final product. If you see Fr. Coady, please express your appreciation for his time and effort on behalf of our parish.
God chose four men to write about the life of Jesus. These, of course, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: The Four Evangelists. Since early Christianity, theologians and artists have delighted in finding parallels and connections between various aspects of the Bible, and the Four Evangelists have long been associated with the four “living creatures” who surround God’s throne in Ezekiel and Revelation.
The symbolism of each of the Four Evangelists and their gospels grew over centuries, and were fully expressed by Rabanus Maurus, who set out three layers of meaning for the beasts, as representing firstly the Evangelists, secondly the nature of Christ, and thirdly the virtues required of a Christian for salvation.
Matthew, the author of the first gospel account is symbolized by a winged man, or angel. Matthew’s gospel starts with Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham; it represents Jesus’ Incarnation, and so Christ’s hum nature. This signifies that Christians should use their reason for salvation.
Mark, the author of the second gospel account is symbolized by a winged lion - a figure of courage and monarchy. Mark has John the Baptist preaching “like a lion roaring” at the beginning of his Gospel. It also represents Jesus’ Resurrection (because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, a comparison with Christ in the tomb), and Christ as king. This signifies that Christians should be courageous on the path of salvation.
Luke, the author of the third gospel account is symbolized by a winged ox or bull - a figure of sacrifice, service and strength. Luke’s account begins with the duties of Zacharias in the temple; it represents Jesus’ sacrifice in His Passion and Crucifixion, as well as Christ being High priest. The ox signifies that Christians should be prepared to sacrifice themselves in following Christ.
John, the author of the fourth gospel account is symbolized by an eagle - a figure of the sky. John starts with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; it represents Jesus’ Ascension, and Christ’s divine nature. This represents that Christians should look on eternity with flinching as they journey towards their goal of union with God.
(Revelation 4:6-8) "Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, 'Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.'"
(Ezekiel 1:4-10) "As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings... As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle."