The symbol of Venice is the winged lion that represents in the Christian religion the Evangelist Mark, patron of the city. Once the flag with the lion waved in all venetian lands. Thousands of winged lions, although represented in different shapes, were the testimony of the power of the Serenissima.
The winged lion is depicted with an open book and the sword, in some cases with the halo, but there are also depictions of the lion lacking both the book, The Sword, and the halo. Each detail defines a recognized symbology:
The wings represent the spiritual elevation
The Halo Christian symbol of holiness and religious piety
The book expresses the concepts of wisdom and peace
The sword expresses the concept of strength and justice. Five fingers wide (hence the name “Cinquedea”), was of Venetian origin.
Venice, therefore, expressed through the lion His Majesty, power, wisdom, justice, peace, military strength and religious piety.
The open book represents the sovereignty of the State and has the Latin inscription: Pax Tibi Marce evangelista Meus who sometimes added the words Jesus Dixit.
The Open book with the sword not visible on the ground, popularly thought to be a symbol of the serenity of the Serenissima
The Open book and the contested sword would represent the public justice
The closed book is the symbol of public prosecutions
The closed book and the contested sword, popularly but seems erroneously, is considered a symbol of war.
The last representation is that of the lion that has the front legs resting on a strip of earth and the hind ones on the water: The power of Venice on the earth and the sea!
All these interpretations were never codified by the Serenissima and therefore it was the people who gave all these interpretations that we like very much and that give free rein to the imagination.