Collection: Lion of Judah

ARTIST: Br. Robert Lentz, OFM


In the center, grouped around the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes in front and behind. The first was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle... I wept bitterly because there was nobody fit to open the scroll and read it, but one of the elders said to me, "There is no need to cry; the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll and the seven seals of it."
(Revelation 4-5)

In this icon depicting the Lion of Judah, Christ is a Maasai warrior, instead of a Greek philosopher. When Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene and to the disciples walking to Emmaeus, after his resurrection, these close friends could not recognize him. Perhaps his resurrected body had changed and had taken on a more cosmic quality. Again, in Matthew 25, Jesus has told us that he has often appeared to us in the hungry, naked, homeless, and imprisoned, and we did not recognize him. At the end of the world, when he comes in glory, will we recognize the Lion of Judah, or will our pre-conceived notions blind us? Do we recognize him now, in our daily lives?

Christ is enthroned in a series of spheres and squares, which represent the way he has joined together time and eternity. The cross inside his halo bears the Greek letters for "I am who am," the divine name given to Moses at the burning bush. The gold letters in the upper part of the icon are Greek abbreviations for "Jesus Christ." The four winged creatures each hold a Gospel book, for they represent the four evangelists: the lion, Mark; the ox, Luke; the eagle, John; and the human, Matthew.

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How sweetly o'er the mountain of Zion, lovely, Zion,
The anthem of ages comes sweeping along;
The anthem of the faithful, we hear, and, rejoicing,
Our hearts in glad measure keep tune with the song.


O the Lion of Judah hath triumphed forever,
O the Lion of Judah is mighty and strong.

O happy, happy tidings, the kingdom now is opened,
The seals are all broken; proclaim it afar;
From bondage and oppression by Him we are delivered,
The Lion of Judah, the bright Morning Star.


Hosanna in the highest, all glory everlasting,
The cross and its banner triumphant shall wave;
Hosanna in the highest, all glory everlasting,
The Lion of Judah His people will save.


"Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)