The Gryphon

The Legend of the Gryphon

red griffin holding a quill pen, illustrated by lawrence klimecki

LONG BEFORE THE INCARNATION OF THE ANOINTED ONE, the prophets and wise men of old foresaw His coming. They spoke of a Lord of Heaven and Earth, a creature of light that guarded the paths to salvation.

griffin2To articulate this prophecy they envisioned a marvelous creature, the gryphon. Part lion, and part eagle, the gryphon is lord of earth and sky, a guardian of treasure and a conveyor of souls to paradise. In ancient times the gryphon was shown drinking of the chalice of eternal life and guarding the tree of immortality.  Its likeness was carved on the thrones of kings and over the doorways of treasure houses. It was said that a cup made from the claw of a gryphon would dissolve all poison and many princes claimed to have one in their possession. Indeed one knight even claimed to have defeated a gryphon in battle and took a forepaw as a trophy, a trophy that hung in his great hall for many years thereafter.


The birth of Christ was the fulfillment of this prophecy, the true Lord of Light, King of Heaven and Earth, and the Way to salvation.

griffin3But the image of the gryphon would not let go of the imagination. It fell to the medieval sages to see the symbolic nature of the ancient creature brought to life in the person of Jesus. The beast that was both lion and eagle pointed to the person who was both man and god. And delighting in the work of artisans and the human imagination they eagerly used the gryphon as a symbol of the Christ in their books, and in their churches, rendered in paint, and tapestry and stone.

And though the use of symbols has fallen greatly out of fashion in our day, the gryphon still has hold of our imagination and still points us to the true source of the Light who will lead us to Paradise.