The winged Lion of Saint Mark

The winged Lion is the symbol of Venice, because the winged lion described in the book of Revelation (Rv. 4,7) was identified as being St Mark the Evangelist, buried in the main church of the city. After the Venetian “theft” of the holy relics in Alessandria in Egypt, a legend aroused in which the Saint had a dream, while he was travelling across the Venetian lagoon. An angel revealed to St Mark that his body would have come to extreme and peaceful rest in Venice. Hence, the words “Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist” that can be read, in Latin, on the open book. The winged Lion was placed by the Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia in every town of its rich dominium.

The winged Lion could be represented with a book, open or not, or with a sword and the book closed under a front paw.
Despite what is commonly believed, the sword - Lion iconography did not mean “war” for the towns in which the lion was placed; neither did the book – Lion iconography mean “peace”. On the contrary, the sword was linked to the judiciary power of the Republic of Venice. On the other hand, a sacral connotation had the shape of Lion tail: it probably refers to the sanctity of Saint Marc, the patron of Venice.

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