National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

'The Four Gospels' (Symbols of the Four Evangelists)


Type Other , Sculpture

     The work in high releif is framed by a double arch of bricks above a table as if it would be an altarpiece. At the bottom is an eagle in flight with a halo, above the eagle is a bull shown in profile and also with wings and a halo, above the bull is a winged lion with a halo, at the top is a winged-human figure in flight with its hands together as if in prayer and a halo. The work is a carved relief with rounded, simplified forms. The marks of the claw-toothed chisel are visible on most the work, giving it a rich texture and suggesting feathers and fur where appropriate, only the faces, horns and feet have been smoothed.
     St Augustine's School was founded in 1885 and moved to new buildings on its present site in 1991. The school was blessed by the Archbishop of Birmingham in June 1991.
     This work depicts the emblems of the four evangelist of the Christian church, saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who wrote the four gospels. The emblem of the divine man was assigned to St Matthew in ancient times because his Gospel teaches the human nature of Christ. St Mark is symbolised by a winged lion because of the long-standing association between lions and royalty, the lion being the "king of the beasts", and St Mark's gospel preaches the royal dignity of Christ. St Luke is symbolised by a winged ox or bull, in reference to his gospel which discusses the sacrificial aspect of Christ's life. St John is symbolised traditionally by a rising eagle. St John is represented by an eagle because his gaze if reputed to have pierced further into Heaven than that of any man.(1) Ritchie's version showing the eagle with broadly spread wings provides a well-rounded base for the whole composition.



Contributor details

Contributor Role
Ritchie, Walter Sculptor
Rush Davies, None Architect

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Whole Acastor stone 184cm high x 101cm wide x 20cm deep

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMsoSOxx004 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Other
Structural condition
  • Other
  • None
Road Whitefields Road
Precise location St Augustine's RC Primary School
A-Z ref
OS ref SP144786
Date of design
Year of unveiling 1991
Unveiling details 1991
Commissioned by Rush Davies Design Partnership, the architects
Duty of care St Augustine's RC Primary School
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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