The doge of Venice Francesco Foscari kneels before the Lion of St. Mark, Leone di San Marco, (the symbol of St. Mark the Evangalist, protector of Venice), located above the gothic “Porta della Carta,” the main entrance to the Palazzo Ducale on the Piazza San Marco.
the sculpture is, however, nineteenth-century replica of the original relief, destroyed in 1797.
An open book is a symbol of the state’s sovereignty. The lion of Venice is usually depicted with its paw on an open book that contains the text “Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus.” This Latin phrase translates as “Peace be upon you, O Mark, my Evangelist.” Venetian legend has it that, while visiting the region of Italy that would later become the Veneto, Mark was approached by an angel, greeted with those words, and told that the Venetian lagoon would be his ultimate resting place. The actual story is most likely as described above, with the Venetians taking it upon themselves to fulfill the angel’s prophecy (which they probably wrote themselves, too).