December 27th is the Feast Day of St John the Evangelist, the only one of the twelve apostles not to have been martyred.
John was the son of Zebedee and the brother of James. He is the presumed author of the fourth gospel and, by tradition, the Book of Revelation.
There is a beautiful statue of St John the Evangelist, the work of Camillo Rusconi (1658-1728), in the church of San Giovanni in Laterano. His attribute is an eagle, which we see by his right foot. The eagle symbolised the saint's inspiration and is sometimes depicted with an inkhorn around its neck.
Lecterns often take the form of an eagle, particularly in Anglican churches. In the medieval mind, the eagle was thought to be the bird that flew the highest in the sky and was therefore the closest to heaven.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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