Author: Svirskis Vincas, 1835 - 1916
Created: late 19th–early 20th century.
Material / technique: wood carving.
Dimensions: high – 133 cm.
John the Evangelist is a saint, one of the twelve apostles, and the youngest disciple of Jesus Christ. He is the author of the Fourth Gospel of the New Testament and the Apocalypse, and he raised the idea of Christ’s deity. After Jesus’ death, he did apostolic work and followed the Apostle Peter. It is said that wishing to test the apostle’s faith, the priest of the Temple of Diana gave him a poisoned chalice, but the poison escaped in the shape of a serpent.
John the Evangelist is depicted as young, with a rather feminine face, no beard, wearing long wide clothes, with a book symbolising his writings, and sometimes with a chalice symbolising the Christian faith and a serpent escaping from it symbolising Satan.
One psalm said the following about an innocent man, ‘Lord, you made him a little lower than the angels, you covered him in honour and glory.’ This can be said about St John the Apostle, who loved the Lord and people immensely and was particularly loved, like some angel, by both Christ and people.
/.../ Caesar Domitian ordered that he be poisoned. The servants soon brought the chalice with poison, which St John drank, but remained healthy. The pagans seeing that the poison did not work, took him out of town, made a large fire and threw St John into a vat of boiling oil. The fire was raging and there was so much smoke that one could not see the apostle. They boiled him for a long while and thought the old man had died, but when they lifted him from the vat he was unharmed and praying. They reported the miracle to Caesar, who concluded that St John was immortal and banished him to an island called Patmos. St John converted all the residents of the island into Catholics and wrote the Book of Revelation full of heavenly secrets./.../
St John wrote three letters to the Catholics urging them to love God and your neighbour. Those letters show that his heart was full of love for his neighbour. He outlived all the other apostles and died in Ephesus at the age of one hundred. (Motiejus Valančius, „Žyvatai šventųjų“, Raštai 2, 2006, p. 139–143)
Reference: "The Lithuanian art collection of Jaunius Gumbis". Museum and Collector - 6. Vilnius: National Museum of Lithuania, 2016, Kat. No, P. 234.
The places of origin of some of the works of art kept in private collections have been identified as well. For instance, the publication on Jaunius Gumbys’s collection features a fragment of a monument with the statue of a saint, the plot designated as the Evangelist. However, for the purposes of this book and with reference to the data provided by Ms Kostkevičiūtė, the sculpture is considered to be that of St Anthony the Hermit, its date of origin is updated to ca 1892, and place of origin is identified as Josvainiai.
Reference: "The Wooden Wonders of Vincas Svirskis", The Lithuanian Art Museum, 2019. P. 237.