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The Emblems and Symbols

The symbols depicted in the mosaic panels were described in the St Andrew's Parish Magazine from September 1885.  Here is an extract...

"The general design of the pictures is to remind us of the ministry of God's servants in proclaiming His Word: the patriarchs and prophets by the dispensation of the Law: and the twelve apostles by the preaching of the Gospel. The figure of each prophet or apostle is marked by some emblem which reminds us of his character or his work.

  • ISAIAH wears the mantle, which we are told is the dress of the prophets.
  • ELIJAH also has the mantle, but it is of camel's hair, to remind us of his sojourning in the Arabian wilderness.
  • ABRAHAM has the head-dress of the chief of a wandering tribe, which is very much the same now as in the days of Abraham.
  • ENOCH is represented as a very old man, as he attained the age of 365 years (Gen v,. 23)
  • NOAH has the dove perched on his shoulder.
  • AARON has the mitre and the breastplate of twelve stones, which formed part of the robes of the high priest.
  • MOSES has the tablets of the law, and the horns which were the emblems of authority and power (Psalm cxii, 9).
  • DAVID bears the crown and sceptre, which shows that he became King of Israel.

Thus we are reminded of the history of three patriarchs, two preachers, a high priest, a lawgiver and a psalmist, each of whom was, in the fullest sense of the word, a prophet of God under the Old Testament dispensation.

Among the Apostles:

  • PETER has the keys, reminding us our Lord's words to him recorded in St Matthew xvi, 19.
  • ANDREW has the cross, on which historians tell us how he was crucified.
  • JAMES the son of Zebedee has the staff of a pilgrim, because he was the first to journey through the death of martyrdom to the 'land which is very far off'.
  • JOHN has the silver cup, reminding us how he sat by our Lord at the Passover supper: and also that in his case, according to certain historians, there was fulfilled our Lord's promise Mark xvi, 18.
  • PHILIP has a basket of fish, as he was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
  • BARTHOLOMEW has a book of the Gospels from which he preached, and the knife by which he was martyred by the heathens in Armenia.
  • THOMAS carries the mathematical instrument called a square, because he had an exact, closely reasoning mind, declining to believe what he had not seen for himself.
  • MATTHEW has the book of the Gospels, of which he was the first writer.
  • JAMES son of ALPHEUS has the club by which he was slain.
  • SIMON ZELOTES has the saw, the emblem of the carpenter's occupation, and also the instrument of his martyrdom.
  • JUDE has a boat reminding us how many apostles were constantly employed on the Lake of Galilee.
  • MATTHIAS has a book of the Gospels, which he preached, and the spear by which he was martyred in Ethiopia.

We notice in each case, that we are reminded either of the Apostle's character, or his occupation, or his work for Christ, or death in the Master's service. The pictures, as a whole, point out how, by men of very different character and occupation, our Lord may be equally glorified, if life and death be devoted to Him."



Page last updated: Thursday 20th August 2020 12:13 PM

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