Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saint Luke the Limner

Viktor Mikhajlovič Vasnetsov. Fresco sketch of Jesus and the Gospels for Kiev’s Cathedral of St. Vladimir. 1884-89. Moscow.

Saint Luke was a greek physician from Antioch, who lived in Troas. He served Paul in the same capacity as Mark served Peter. Luke wrote a Gospel and a history of the early church, Acts of the Apostles. He followed Paul to the end of Paul’s life. Luke died in Thebes of Boetia. Many modern biblical scholars, and scholars in related studies, have marvelled in the historical and geographical exactness Luke wrote. Luke was a man with several talents.
Luigi Gregori went from Rome to Notre Dame Indiana, in 1874. He painted murals on the basilica’s walls and ceilings for seventeen years. Over the sanctuary, Gregori painted a quartet of Prophets and the evangelists. Now, not only did he limn the life of the early church, he limned portraits in paint. In this painting of Luke, there is contained two aspects of Luke. He is shown with his iconic ox and as a painter, a double identification. Many mediæval painter guilds named Luke as their patron. To-day many hospitals have also been named after him.

In Vasnetsov’s work, a youthful Jesus is shown with the four heavenly icons, of the four evangelists and the Gospel. Vasnetsov did not paint in the iconic tradition, a tradition he knew well. His grandfather painted, or more correctly wrote, icons. His father, Mikhajl Vasilijevič Vasnetsov, was a priest. The murals were painted for the new church, which celebrated nine hundres years of christian Russia.

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