Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Ballineaspaig, Cork, Ireland


The imposing dome stands on four columns at the meeting point of nave and transepts. Figures of the four evangelists are mounted at the top of these columns. They are called the evangelist, a word meaning people who proclaim good news. The position and prominence in the church of the figures symbolising the four Evangelists is meant to convey the centrality and importance of the Gospels for us the followers of Christ. The symbols of the four evangelists are based on the Book of Ezekiel 1:1-14 and the Book of Revelation 4:7 where the four living creatures that surround God's throne are described.

The symbols of the four animals have captured the imagination of artists down through the ages. They are found in the Book of Kells.

A winged man or angel represents Matthew, the author of the first Gospel. It points to the emphasis in Matthew on the Incarnation of Jesus, Son of God, becoming a human being like us.

Mark, the author of the second Gospel is symbolised by a winged lion, a figure of power and courage. It points to Christ our King.

Luke, the author of the third Gospel (and the Acts of the Apostles) is symbolised by a winged bull, a figure of sacrifice, highlighting the priestly ministry of Christ.

John the Evangelist, is symbolised by the eagle. It points to Jesus' divine nature and his Ascension. The goal of our journey is to live in God's presence.

View of Dome

Dome with the Four Evangelists on the Pillars

Matthew - a winged man or angel Mark - the winged lion

Luke - the winged bull John - the eagle

Medallions of the Evangelists on the Pillars