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Seville Cathedral Chapter House: Mighty angel with legs like pillars of fire – An apocalyptic vision of John of Patmos


Mighty angel with legs like pillars of fire
This is one of the most beautiful and expressive bas-reliefs in the Sala Capitular (Chapter House) of the Seville Cathedral. It captures the essence of a mysterious verse from the Book of Revelation authored by John of Patmos (believed to be the Apostle John and author of one of the Gospels).

Here are the verses that inspired the bas-relief:
Revelation 10:1-8 – The Angel and the Little Scroll
1. Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face was like the sun, his legs were like pillars of fire.
2. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land
3. And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke.
4. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down’
5. Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven.
6. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, ‘There will be no more delay’
7. But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.’
8. Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: ‘Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land

The bas-relief perfectly captures the essence of the verses 1 to 8 from chapter 10 of the Book of Revelation. It depicts the mighty angel with legs like pillars of fire wrapped in a cloud. As you can see, his left foot is on the land, the right foot is on the sea, and the right hand raised (to heaven). He is holding an open book (little scroll) with his left hand and John appears to receive that book. Unlike many of his other visions, John himself is a participant in this vision. Many Bible experts believe that the mighty angel is Christ.

This is one of the 16 bas-reliefs – eight in the vertical (portrait) format and the other eight in the horizontal (landscape) format – carved on the vaulted ceiling of the Chapter House dome. The portrait format bas-reliefs were made by Juan Bautista Vázquez el Viejo and Diego de Velasco around 1582 – 1584. The landscape format bas-reliefs were made by Marcos Cabrera in 1590.

Used as a meeting room of the cathedral chapter, the Chapter House is an ellipse-shaped hall attached to the southeast side of the Seville Cathedral.

Related Pages
Seville Cathedral: An awe-inspiring architectural marvel
La Giralda: A harmonious blend of Moorish and Renaissance architectural styles
Sala Capitular – The Chapter House of the Seville Cathedral
Sacristía Mayor – The Main Sacristy of the Seville Cathedral

Copyright © 2020 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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