St. Luke the Evangelist icon
May 8th, 2013
Ink, watercolor, gold leaf“Let us praise the godly Luke:
He is the true preacher of piety,
The orator of ineffable mysteries
And the star of the Church,
For the Word who alone knows the hearts of men,
Chose him, with the wise Paul, to be a teacher of the gentiles!” ~ Kontakion (Tone 2) of the Feast of St. LukeSaint Luke gave us the gospel message and proclaimed Christ as the dawn from on high, alleluia!
-Antiphon of the Feast of St. Luke
Hey everyone! I was commissioned to make an icon of St. Luke the Evangelist by a cousin of mine for her son. St. Luke is actually a special favorite saint of mine, not only because he is the patron saint of artists, but also because I love the Acts of the Apostles and I think his Gospel is my favorite (I mean, if you can have a favorite Gospel.
). So St. Luke holds a very special place in my heart. However, this icon was very, very finicky, especially with the face and the eyes, and I’m still not entirely happy with it. The reason there’s a little Theotokos of Vladimir
in the book is because St. Luke is traditionally considered to be the first iconographer, and I wanted to incorporate that into this image somehow. :+: A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE SAINT :+:St. Luke the Evangelist (first century A.D., born perhaps around 31 A.D. and died around 85 A.D.)
, was a native of the Hellenistic city of Antioch (the ruins of which are near the modern city of Hatay, Turkey). He was of Greek descent, like many citizens of the wealthy and populous city of Antioch, but whether he was born to pagan or Jewish parents is unknown. He may have been a Gentile before his conversion, since his focus in his Gospel is often upon non-Jews and social outcasts. Whatever his ancestry, it is obvious from his writings that he was extremely well educated. Even critics of the Gospels see in St. Luke’s two books a highly intelligent master of the Greek language and a historian of the highest caliber and credibility. He was a physician by profession (Paul calls him “our beloved physician"
(Colossians 4:14), and tradition also holds that he was an accomplished artist and the first iconographer.
One tradition holds that St. Luke was one of the original disciples of Jesus, but he might also have been an early convert of Paul’s. In any case, he was one of St. Paul’s most faithful traveling companions, and is mentioned numerous times in Paul’s letters to the various churches. St. Luke also recorded Paul’s travels and the activity of the early Church in his book The Acts of the Apostles.
There are numerous passages in Acts
when the writer says “We”, probably designating that Luke was with Paul at the time. While Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he wrote to Timothy that “only Luke is with me”
(2 Timothy 4:11). It is unknown what Luke did after Paul’s martyrdom, but traditionally it is thought that he wrote his Gospel near Boeotia, Greece sometime around 70 or 80 A.D. He died fairly soon after that, probably around 84 or 85 A.D. Most sources are silent on the manner of his death, but one tradition says that he was martyred by being hung on an olive tree. His tomb is in Thebes, Greece, but his relics were taken to Constantinople in 357 A.D. After the Crusaders sacked it in 1204, his relics were brought to Italy.
Currently, his relics can be found in three primary locations. His body is in the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua, Italy. His head resides in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, in the Czech Republic. And a rib (the one closest to his heart) is at his tomb in Thebes, Greece. The rib was with the rest of his body in Padua until the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Ieonymos asked for a rib of St. Luke from Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua. A scientific investigation was then undertaken, and using modern dating methods, it was established that the body in Padua and the head in Prague both belonged to an individual man from Syria who died between 72 and 416 A.D.
All four of the Evangelists have a symbol that represents them in traditional Christian iconography, based on the four living creatures from Revelations 4:7 and Ezekial 1:10. The symbol of St. Luke is a winged bull or ox, because his Gospel opens with an account of the priestly ministry of Zechariah, and also because a major focus of Luke’s Gospel is on the emphasis of Christ’s sacrificial mission, symbolized by an ox (or bull).
Other characteristics of St. Luke’s Gospel is an emphasis on the merciful side of Jesus, exhibited by his compassion towards women, social outcasts, sinners, the poor, soldiers, Gentiles, and the suffering. Only Luke records the story of the Prodigal Son, and the incident with the Good Thief. The Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work, an emphasis on the poor, and the joy of the early Church are other major aspects of his Gospel. Another prominent theme is the Universal Salvation Christ extends to all. Jesus is presented as the Son of Man, and not exclusively as the Son of David, showing that God wishes to save everyone, even the Gentiles. The Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist is celebrated on October 18th. Lord God,
who chose Saint Luke
to reveal by his preaching
and writings the mystery
of your love for the poor,
grant that those who already glory in your name
may persevere as one heart and one soul
and that all nations may merit to see your salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.