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"Images of the Virgin Mary attributed to the evangelist Luke"

The legends and the facts. By Mavrou Olga.

Panagia Sumela of Vermio.

To the evangelist Luke, who according to tradition was also a painter in addition to a doctor, dozens of icons and more than 30 icons of the Virgin Mary are attributed. However, most accept the purely religious tradition, that Luke painted only three icons, one of which was kept for centuries in Panagia Soumela and is now in Vermio.

Luke, a contemporary of Jesus Christ, is referred to as a doctor of Greek origin and "ethnic" as the Christians called those who believed in the twelve gods. By others he is referred to as a Greek Jew, as a foreigner, as we would say today, which means he was not a Jew, and by others as a Hellenized Jew. There is not much evidence to support his medical status, as it is possible that it was a synonym, i.e. for a Luke Christian, who was a doctor. He was probably born in the then Greek city of Antioch which belonged to Syria and now to Turkey (Antikia). He became a Christian and was a close associate of Paul. He was a fellow passenger with Paul in the ship that was wrecked on the way to Rome and arrived with him in Syracuse. According to Nicephorus Callisto, Luke suffered a martyr's death, after being flayed alive and then hanged on an olive tree in Ephesus at the age of 80, while according to Jerome he died in Thebes in Boeotia at the age of 84.

During the era of Iconoclasm

He knew the art of painting and it is considered that he proposed to the mother of Christ to paint her and she accepted. According to the Christian tradition, he was given three paintings by an archangel and according to another tradition he only painted on three pieces of wood from the house where the Virgin Mary lived at the time. However, the tradition that wants him as the first iconographer began around 750 AD, perhaps due to the controversy between iconoclasts and iconoclasts. The Greeks at that time were in favor of the icons and in fact ships from the Cyclades and other Greek islands set out for a naval battle, but were destroyed by the liquid fire in Constantinople. When the emperor, in his attempt to maintain balance with the southern provinces of the Byzantine Empire, allowed all the icons to be destroyed, a 20-year savage war began with persecutions, torture of monks, throwing icons and relics into the fire, but also with propaganda on both sides to strengthen the of one position or another.

At that time, the prevailing opinion was that Loukas was the first to paint the Virgin Mary the Guide (Odigitria) and indeed the Guide of Constantinople - an icon that was destroyed during the Fall of Constantinople. The one below is considered to be a copy of it and is located in the Xenophon Monastery of Mount Athos. The original – which was destroyed with axes and cut in four during the Fall – was considered a miraculous icon and was kept in the Monastery of the Guides in Constantinople. Panagia of the Guides (Odigitria) was a monastic center near the palaces of the Manganos. It was so called because there the monks led the blind to the adjacent miraculous sanctuary.

The Icons of Virgin Mary of the evangelist Luke

The icon, according to tradition, was sent from Jerusalem in 400 AD. from Empress Aelia Eudokia to her husband's sister Pulcheria, in Antioch, and she, in turn, gave it to the Monastery of the Guides in Constantinople. The icon became the Holy Palladium and was used both in ceremonies and in military conflicts, while it had been attributed to Luke. Panagia the Guide is the most widespread iconographic type of the mother of God. The second icon believed to have been created by Loukas can be found in the Monastery of the Great Cave in Kalavryta, with the Right-handed Virgin Mary, made of wax, frankincense and mastic.

Local tradition says that Luke himself took it to Achaia from Palestine and gave it to the first Christians, who during the persecutions hid it in a cave, where it was found in 362 AD. by a girl, the later Saint Euphrosyne. It is embossed, three points thick. The Virgin wears a colored robe and golden diagrams. From the many fires in the Monastery, it has been tarnished. Her body is turned to the right, with her head inclined towards Christ, holding him in her right hand (Dexiocratousa), who with his left hand lightly holds the left palm of his mother while in his right he holds the Gospel. To the right and left of the wax image are angels.

The third icon attributed to him is of Panagia Soumela, which since 1952 has been kept in Panagia Soumela of Vermio.

The Virgin Mary of the Cypriot Kykkou Monastery is also attributed to him. There, by tradition, the face of the Virgin Mary and Christ have been covered.

The Black Virgin of Czestochowa is also considered by some to be the work of Luke, but it has been established that the wood is probably from the 6th century. The Poles believe that the icon has saved them from many enemies and consider the icon miraculous.

The icon was destroyed by Hussites in 1440 and the monks who tried to restore it, through ignorance, actually destroyed the original. They also changed the noses of the Virgin Mary and the baby according to the Polish American Journal. The two deep "wrinkles" on her face are due to Hussite axes. These were Christians opposed to the Pope and preached the gospel in the Czech language. When their leader was burned at the stake by the Pope, they started a cruel war that, in addition to the religious dimension, also had economic and national dimensions. The icon has been in Poland for 600 years and according to their tradition it is the work of Paul who depicted the Virgin Mary and the baby on a piece of wood from a table in the Virgin Mary's house. According to the same tradition, the icon was found in Jerusalem by Saint Helen, who gave it to her son Constantine the Great. He was transferred to (now Ukrainian) Belc, on the border with Poland. Unknown how, perhaps from the hands of a duke of Kiev, it ended up in the hands of a duke and adviser to the then king of Hungary and Poland in 1380.

And in India they believe they have an icon of the evangelist Luke. St. Thomas Christians in India believe that the icon of the Virgin in the church of St. Thomas in Chennai was painted by Luke, but it was taken to India by St. Thomas, who was martyred there at the age of 52. The icon has undergone many revisions over the centuries.

Translated from Source:

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