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Catholic Dictionary




A symbol of teaching, learning, and writing. Variously inscribed with words, the book is carried by many saints to indicate their spiritual erudition. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the earlier centuries were represented carrying scrolls and books; in fact these were their first emblems. The open book represents doctrinal teaching, and St. Paul is often shown with such a book or scroll. So, too, is St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Brigit of Sweden, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Teresa of Avila for obvious reasons as founders of religious orders and teachers of the word of God. St. Anthony of Padua and St. Boniface together with Venerable Bede have the book as one of their main symbols.