The Eagle Lectern
The fine brass lectern in St Giles’ stands on the south side of the Sanctuary, facing north. At our services, assistant ministers read from the Bible which rests on the outspread wings of its carved eagle, the symbol of St John the Evangelist and also of the Resurrection. This has been the traditional design of lecterns since the Middle Ages. There are one or two mentions of a brass lectern in St Giles’ before the Reformation, but there is no hint as to whether it was similar to this one, which it might have been, or a desk lectern, set on a table.
The present day lectern was given to St Giles’ in 1886 by an anonymous ‘lady and gentleman, who wished, as a thank offering for a child recovered from a dangerous illness, to present a handsome brass lectern to the church’. For many years it stood in the Moray Aisle, before being refurbished in 1984 and moved to its present position, to enhance the central sanctuary. Round its base are the symbols of all four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At one point it was supposed that it had been given by Henry Littlejohn, the public health pioneer who was an elder and had been a close friend of William Chambers, restorer of the Cathedral, but Littlejohn’s wife had died five months before the gift was made and no documentary evidence has been found to associate it with him.
In 1991 Jacqueline Gruber Steiger, the distinguished Edinburgh sculptor and jeweller, designed its special steps, which were presented to St Giles’ by the Normandy Veterans’ Association.