Why is Saint Luke the patron saint of artists?
The illustrative descriptions of his Gospel, as well as his renowned talent as a painter, make this evangelist a patron of the visual arts.
Among the many patron saints of artists, Saint Luke is one of the oldest. Tradition attributes many qualities to the evangelist which make him a perfect candidate.
Inspiration for artists
First of all, his Gospel includes many scenes which have led to some of the finest religious art. The Catholic Encyclopedia proposes the following comment.
[I]It is certain that Saint Luke was an artist, at least insofar as his graphic descriptions of the Annunciation, of the Visitation, of the Nativity, of the Shepherds. Presentation, the Shepherd and the lost sheep, etc., have become the inspiring and favorite themes of Christian painters.
Its patronage of artists is entirely appropriate in this perspective.
Portrait painter of Notre-Dame
The second reason why Saint Luke is related to artists is the traditional claim that he painted portraits of the Blessed Mother.
For example, he is considered by the Eastern Church as the original “iconographer”, responsible for the writing. the first icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many painters throughout the centuries have depicted this scene by placing Saint Luke in front of an easel, painting a portrait of the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus.
There are several traditions surrounding what happened to the original icons written by Saint Luke. An ancient account explains that in the 5th century a Byzantine empress brought from Jerusalem to Constantinople an icon attributed to Saint Luke. Hodegon Monastery was built to consecrate him, and later all copies of this icon became known as the Hodegetria. Most believe that the original image was lost in the Middle Ages.
While most historians discredit this tradition because there is no solid evidence to support this claim, Christian artists have for centuries invoked the intercession of Saint Luke, drawing inspiration from his artistic talent.