Font cover

  • Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. (Luke 1:1–4, NRSV)

The Apostle Paul’s companion Luke wrote this at the beginning of his gospel, and a similar paragraph at the beginning of his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, that charts the early history of the Christian Church. 

In the fourth century, Jerome, who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, assigned to the four gospel writers a set of images listed in the book of the prophet Ezekiel:

  • 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. (Ezekiel 1:4–6, 10)

Jerome ascribed the human being to Matthew, the lion to Mark, the ox to Luke, and the eagle to John. A splendid representation of the four images can be found in the ninth century Book of Kells. The carved figures on the four sides of the font cover at St Mary Abchurch are of the four traditional gospel writers, each accompanied by their image. 

The font cover was made by William Emmett and cost £12. It is attached to a counterweight located in the vestry.

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