The Winged Lion: A Symbol of our Community

Jan 10, 2023

Have you ever wondered what makes the lion so special to Corpus Christi and St. Mark’s College? More than a mascot, the winged lion is a symbol of our community’s history and identity.

The following piece was originally published in the program for the Presidential Installation of Dr. Gerry Turcotte on November 25, 2022.


The sculpture of The Lion & St. Mark is the first sight for many visitors to our campus. Crafted by Lionel Thomas in 1957, the year before the school buildings opened, the sculpture depicts our namesake, St. Mark, alongside a winged lion, which is traditionally a symbol of St. Mark. The sculpture is part of the permanent collection at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia.

“Thomas’ sculpture shows the Saint holding a quill pen in one hand and a scroll in the other, ready to write the Gospel. St. Mark looks to the brilliant sun for inspiration, which is meant to symbolize the light of Christ.”


The sculpture of The Lion & St. Mark inspired our logo, which features a winged lion, the traditional representation of St. Mark, and the sun, symbolizing the light of Christ. The lion in the College logo is depicted as strong and proud, walking forward as to symbolize leadership, with a powerful front paw aloft to signify the authority of the word. The lion’s mouth is open to proclaim the word of God and bring good news. The sun’s rays are visible around the lion to represent the twelve apostles. Other features of the lion emphasize the numbers three, for the Holy Trinity, and four for the four gospel writers.


An important symbol for the Community of St. Mark’s, the winged lion is also prominent on our College crest. Here, the lion stands upon a wreath with a front paw placed upon a book. Beneath the lion is our shield. The shield features two crosses, reflecting our Catholic identity, as well as an image of the sun’s rays in front of a triangle with wavy lines, calling to mind the mountains and waters of British Columbia. At the bottom of the crest, a scroll reads contemplata tradere, “to pass on the fruits of contemplation.”