Oak lectern, the eagle with wings outspread, perching on a ball representing the World, atop an integral turned stepped base, the original iron reading stand fixed to the back of the eagle’s wings. Dutch, second half of the 17th century.
The tradition of using eagle-shaped lecterns predates the Reformation. Medieval examples survive in a number of English churches. The eagle is the symbol of John the Evangelist (see Revelation, ch 4, v 7) who proclaimed Christ as ‘the Word of God’ at the beginning of his Gospel. The flying eagle is thus a suitable emblem from which God’s word is read, reaching the ends of the earth. The eagle is also thought of as the bird which flies nearest to heaven.