The Gospel of Matthew is currently open at folios 28v-29r
The portrait of Matthew on the left-hand folio is one of just two surviving evangelist portraits (together with that of John on folio 291v) in the Book of Kells. The portraits of Mark and Luke have not survived. Here Matthew, holding his Gospel, stands in front of an ornate throne. The symbols of his fellow evangelists are grouped around him: Luke (calf) and John (eagle) are placed behind the arms of the throne, and Mark (the lion) appears either side of the head of the throne.
Matthew’s tunic is patterned with repeated crosses (crucifixion motif) set in a diamond pattern. His cloak is decorated with triple dots – one dot on his left sleeve is red – representing the doctrine of the Trinity: God exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Matthew is surrounded by a frame filled with interlaced snakes, perhaps a visual symbol of Christ’s resurrection from the dead as snakes shed their old skin and are ‘reborn’.