Plaque with Agnus Dei on a Cross between Emblems of the Four Evangelists

Date: 1000–1050

Geography: Made in Benevento (perhaps)

Culture: South Italian

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: Overall: 9 1/4 x 5 3/8 x 3/8 in. (23.5 x 13.7 x 0.9 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.38


The writers of the four Gospels, which relate the story of Christ's life, were often symbolized by animals. Winged creaturees stood for Matthew, a lion for Mark, an ox for Luke, and an eagle for John. These symbols were based upon the vision of Saint John in the Book of Revelation (4:6–7). On this ivory plaque, the animal symbols, holding their Gospels, are arranged around the cross. At the center appears the Lamb of God, a symbol of Christ. Originally, this plaque would have decorated the cover of an Evangiliary, a manuscript containing all four Gospels.