Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Artist Known as St. Luke

No, I'm not losing my mind. I know this isn't a picture of St. Luke.
It was his feast day last weekend, though. Everybody knows Luke, right? Wrote the 3rd Gospel. Was a doctor in his day job. What lots of folks have never heard is that Luke is thought by many to have been the first iconographer.

What you see here is commonly known as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. There is a long-running tradition that St. Luke painted this icon on the top of what amounted to the Holy Family's coffee table. Sure, that seems weird, but it reminds us of another oft-forgotten point.

We know that Luke didn't personally witness the events of Jesus's life. He says so in the introduction for his Gospel. Where did he get all his information then? Most folks are willing to say that the source for Luke's Gospel was the Blessed Mother herself. This explains why he has so much more info on Mary's role. Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, the Nativity (shepherds and all), the Presentation, the Finding in the Temple, etc., are all Luke stuff. Who else would be giving him these sorts of details? Seems reasonable that it would be Mary.

Just wanted to throw that out there. Luke doesn't get as much play as the other three Gospel writers. John and Matthew were apostles. Mark worked with Peter and founded the church in Alexandria. He even has his own liturgy. Luke was a doctor. By comparison, this is like Charlie Brown getting the rock at Halloween. Considering that he was apparently close enough with the Theotokos to provide us with her account of salvation history, he should get a bit more exposure, I think.
St. Luke, pray for us.

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