The Winged Ox

This sculpture is entitled "The Winged Ox," and resides outside of Jefferson Medical College on Walnut Street, between 10th and 11th. The winged ox turns out to be the symbol of St. Luke.

It is perched high above the sidewalk on a pillar inscribed with the names of great physicians, starting of course with Hippocrates.

You're thinking what the hell does this all mean? No fear. All shall be explained as I've learned it through google searching.

First, who was St. Luke? According to a church in Louisiana that bears his name:
St. Luke is believed to be the author of the Gospel that bears his name as well as of the Acts of the Apostles. According to Eusebius, he was probably born in Antioch, Syria of a prosperous Greek family and was trained as a physician.

His gospel is considered the most poetic and beautiful of all. He uses the best grammar and the most eloquent and correct Greek of the New Testament. He shows Jesus not as the Jewish Messiah, but as the world’s Savior and Lord. He was a man of prayer, for his gospel is pre-occupied with the power of prayer. He had a high regard for the dignity of women for they played an important part of his writings...

He is also the patron of the medical profession. He was reported to be a fine painter and is also patron of artists, painters, sculptors, craft workers and lacemakers.

So how does St. Luke get to be represented by a winged ox? That sounds kind of pagan, doesn't it? Almost like a Christmas tree.
His (St. Luke's) symbol is the ox. This may account for his also being patron of butchers. In art, Luke is represented by a winged ox because he begins his gospel with the account of the priest, Zachary, sacrificing in the temple. The ox represents Christ’s sacrifice.

Paul spoke of Luke as “the beloved physician.” Together they evangelized Greece and Rome.

The whole concept of the patron saint is quite controversial as well:
In those denominations of Christianity that believe in the intercession of saints, the patron saint of a particular group of people is a saint who has special affinity for that group and its members. Prayers by such people are considered more likely to be answered by their patron saint. Some consider it a special devotion to God by displaying humility in asking a saint for intercession rather than expecting to be answered themselves, calling to mind Job 42:8, which implies God's favour to the virtuous...
Some Protestant Christian denominations regard the belief in patron saints as latent polytheism and heresy. The belief in a patron saint for certain things is a reminder of the pagan gods and goddesses, they say, and is in their view condemned by the Bible.

So now, when you walk past a winged ox, dedicated to St. Luke's, outside a medical establishment, perched high on an inscribed pillar - you'll know what's up :)

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