I was curious to find out who the Patron Saint of Art is for my post today. (A Patron Saint, in the Catholic religion, is a woman or man who lived a holy and virtuous life. They are considered defenders of a specific group of people or of a country. There is a patron for virtually every cause, country, profession, or special interest. Prayers are considered more likely to be answered by asking the patron of that cause to intercede on their behalf.)
The Patron Saint of Art is Saint Luke. He is considered to be the patron, according to tradition, because he painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary. Artistic expression of Saint Luke is represented in Christian art with an easel and painting materials. He is also depicted with an ox or a calf because these are symbols of sacrifice—the sacrifice of Jesus made for the entire world.
As you know, St Luke wrote one of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, and depicted much about his character. He loved the poor, wanted the door to God’s kingdom opened to all, respected women, and saw hope in God’s mercy for everyone. In his writings, he wrote about six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other Gospels. He spoke of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him as well as the eloquent narrative of the life before Jesus was born with his Mother Mary and her visit to Elizabeth.
St Luke painted the image of Mary, on the right side of this blog, the Mother of Jesus Christ. St Thomas the apostle carried it to India about 1950 years ago. Mary has continued to be venerated through this painting. This painting is kept at the main altar in the Church of Mount St. Thomas in Madras, India. The church is erected where St. Thomas was martyred. The apostles encouraged the people to honor Mary as their Mother because Jesus gave Her to be the Mother of us all.
The final painting is without a doubt one of the most venerated Marian icons of the East. (In Roman times canvasses were not used for pictures, but flat boards, which gave rise over the centuries to the Eastern Christian tradition of iconography.) It is called the Hodegetria (she sho shows the way). Today it can be seen in the Tretjakow gallery. She is the protectress of Russia. The title of this icon is “Our Lady of Tenderness” (Eleousa). It was not attributed to be painted by St Luke, but the prototype of the Eleousa was attributed to St Luke and brought by Empress Eudokia from Palestine to Constantinople in 440. Legend says St Luke painted the prototype on the tabletop in Mary’s house under Mary’s supervision. Thus it is considered the model and original of all Marian images.
I Love this icon most of all. The tenderness of the Child Jesus hugging his mother around the neck. Makes me love His Mother, Mary, as my very own spiritual Mother. Thanks St Luke for painting these images for us to remember and worship Jesus more.
The Feast day of Saint Luke is October 18th. (Feast days generally are the commemoration of martyrs on the dates of their deaths at the same time celebrating their birth into heaven.)
For more information on other patron saints of interest see St Valentine, St Patrick. Also inspiring is All Souls day with Blessed Fra Angelico. Or see “Human Paintbrush “short film on Don Matis , a Catholic artist.