Anglican Life is the official newspaper for the three dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The eagle is often used in our Anglican churches as part of the lectern, from which the lessons are read during worship. The Bible is rested on the eagle’s outstretched wings or on its back. This use of the eagle comes from several different possible sources, including the theory that eagles fly the highest of all birds, and can therefore get the closest to heaven. Another theory is that eagles were believed by ancient peoples to be able to look directly at the sun without harming their eyes, and we believe that Christians are able to look at the Bible, the Word of God, and be equally unharmed.
The eagle is also used as a symbol of St. John the Apostle, who some will argue has the clearest writing about the divine nature of Jesus Christ.
In use as a symbol since the Middle Ages, several examples are still in existence of medieval eagle lecterns. The one shown here is in the chapel of St. Mary the Virgin Church in St. John’s, NL.