Saints on a Headstone

Apostles Celtic Cross

The apostles surrounding Jesus, all in their animal form

During the Protestant Reformation depicting the image of saints in churches and on headstones was forbidden as it was seen as idolatry and as they were perfect beings, could not be created by imperfect men. As Christianity became more tolerant saints started to reappear. 

Apostles on Headstones

The main 4 saints from the Bible are the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are often found at the four corners of monuments in their form as animal kings mentioned in both Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:7.

St. Matthew is shown as a winged man. Man is king of creation, as he is in Gods image.

St. Mark is depicted as a winged lion as it is king of the beasts.

St. Luke is a winged bull or ox. This is because they are the kings of domesticated animals. 

St. John is an eagle, king of the birds. 

Saints on Headstones

Other saints on headstones are also identified via objects concerning their role or previous employment.

St. Peter is usually pictured holding the keys to heaven or the book of life. The key has a trefoil design. 

St. Matthew as a tax collector holding a purse .

St. Mark is depicted holding a book and palm frond

St. Luke was thought to be an artist so can hold brushes 

St. John is represented by a young or femanine man. he may also hold a chalice with a snake in it

St. James is represented by the scallop shell

St. Bartholomew was de-fleshed so holds his own skin 

Official Amanda Norman Photography Store

Official Amanda Norman Photography Store

Back to A to Z of Headstone Meanings

Saints on Headstones Gallery

Please follow for latest updates: