Rare Micromosaic St Mark Venice Lion Italian Plaque
The winged lion has long been a traditional symbol of Venice. It is one symbol of Mark the Evangelist, who has been the is the city's patron saint ever since his remains were taken from a tomb in Alexandria, Egypt, and brought to Venice in 828 AD. Venice's original patron saint had been St. Theodore, a soldier-saint perhaps best known for battling a dragon (or, as a statue of him in Venice depicts it, a crocodile), but as Venice grew and became an important player in world affairs, it was felt that a more prestigious saint was needed. And so, St. Mark was chosen.
The lion of Venice is usually depicted with its paw on an open book that contains the text "Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus." This Latin phrase translates as "Peace be upon you, O Mark, my Evangelist." Venetian legend has it that, while visiting the region of Italy that would later become the Veneto, Mark was approached by an angel, greeted with those words, and told that the Venetian lagoon would be his ultimate resting place. The actual story is most likely as described above, with the Venetians taking it upon themselves to fulfill the angel's prophecy (which they probably wrote themselves, too).