Seville Cathedral Chapter House: Mystic Lamb opening the book with seven seals – An apocalyptic vision of John of Patmos

Bas-relief depicting the Mystic Lamb opening the book with seven seals

Mystic Lamb opening the book with seven seals – An apocalyptic vision of John of Patmos

Mystic Lamb opening the book with seven seals
Located just above the entrance to the Sala Capitular (Chapter House), this bas-relief depicts an apocalyptic vision of John of Patmos described by him in the Book of Revelation, the last book in the New Testament written in a symbolic form about the apocalypse and prophecy. A vast majority of Christians believe that John of Patmos is the same person as St. John the Apostle and St. John the Evangelist, the author of the Gospel according to John. However, many modern scholars have disputed this belief.

Here are the verses from this book that inspired this bas-relief:
Revelation 6: 1-2 – The Lamb opening the book/scroll with seven seals
1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
2. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer

In this vision, John sees God holding a scroll with his right hand. Locked by seven seals, this scroll contains the judgment of God on sin and evil. Then an angel appears and asks the question – who is worthy of opening the seals. One of the 24 elders replies – only the Lion of Judah (implies Jesus) is worthy of opening it. Then a mysterious Lamb – a symbolic representation of Jesus – appears and opens the seal one by one. Every time the Lamb opens a seal, it triggers an apocalyptic event.

As you can see from the bas-relief, God is holding a book with his right hand, and the Mystic Lamb is opening the seal. Surrounding God and the Mystic Lamb are the angels and the elders.

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 vertical format bas-reliefs were made by Juan Bautista Vázquez el Viejo and Diego de Velasco around 1582 – 1584. The horizontal format bas-reliefs were made by Marcos Cabrera in 1590. The carvings of bas-reliefs alternate between the horizontal and vertical formats, which are separated by the Ionic order pilasters. A border that looks like the arched door encloses the vertical bas-reliefs.

The Chapter House is where the cathedral chapter (i.e., the advisory council to the archbishop) of the Seville Cathedral met to discuss the religious and administrative affairs of the 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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