life of Christ. Tthe Gospel excerpts were taken from readings used for the four major feast days: Christmas (John), the Feast of the Annunciation (Luke), Epiphany (Matthew), and the Feast of the Ascension (Mark).
Church, and is linked with John, a highly favored apostle. The ox, a symbol of sacrifice, is depicted together with Luke, while the angel (or man) symbolic of the Incarnation accompanies Matthew. Finally, the lion, a symbol of royalty as well as of fortitude and strength, is the attribute of Mark.
The woodcut at the left depicts an event from the life of St. John the Evangelist as reported in the apocryphal Acts of John and in the popular medieval text, the Legenda Aurea, but it is an uncommon image to accompany the gospels in a Book of Hours. The Emperor Domitian has offered John a poisoned cup from which to drink as a test of the Evangelist's faith. John drinks the poison and lives, proving God's power on behalf of the faithful.
In the early 14th-century statue reproduced by these plaster casts, the Virgin is shown as a literal vessel, holding within her body the life of Christ. When the statue is opened, one can see scenes from the Passion Cycle - a series of images based on the gospel accounts of the arrest, trial, execution, and resurrection of Christ.