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References to lions feature prominently in the Christian bible © Bjorn Persson

Biblical References and Christian Tradition


Several biblical accounts document the presence and cultural perception of lions in ancient Palestine. The best known biblical account featuring lions comes from the Book of Daniel where Daniel is thrown into a den of lions and miraculously survives.


The prophet Amos said: "The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord hath spoken, who can but prophesy? When the gift of prophecy comes upon a person, he has no choice but to speak out.”

In Christian tradition, Mark the Evangelist, is also symbolised by a lion - a figure of courage and monarchy. It also represents Jesus' resurrection (because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, a comparison with Christ in the tomb), and Christ as king. Some Christian legends refer to Saint Mark as "Saint Mark the Lionhearted". These legends say that he was fed to the lions and the animals refused to attack or eat him. Instead the lions slept at his feet, while he petted them.