St. Luke was one of the apostles, wrote major parts of the New Testament and, more relevant to today’s San Miguel de Allende, became the patron of artists. Let’s delve into why that is plus his most famous painting, featured with flair in centro.
Little is known about Luke as, like many apostles, little was recorded about him. However, he recorded a lot and is featured above the altar in most every church in town alongside his fellow writers Saints Matthew, Mark and John. Luke is the lad with the ox, symbolic of then-popular temple animal sacrifices.
Saint Peter once referred to Luke as his physician and at the time medicine and painting were frequented tied together as surgeons taught anatomy to artists. Plus both professions required a detailed knowledge of the human body.
Luke is considered the creator of the very first image of Mary, Jesus’ mother. One day, in a fit of creative inspiration following Jesus’ death, Luke is reported to have dramatically flipped over Mary’s dining room table and paint an infamous image on the wood. Luke used the encaustic technique of applying hot wax to pigment before applying it to wood. Dawn Gaskill is a local artist renown for her encaustic paintings.
Luke’s image features Mary gazing at the baby JC while he appears troubled about the cross being carried by a nearby angel. In many paintings of Jesus’ childhood the cross appears in a “Where’s Waldo?” kind of way for the viewer to find constantly reminding little Jesus what is to come.
Many feel Jesus drops out of the Bible between adolescence and 30 as he needs those years to accept his role spreading God’s word while knowing it won’t end well, especially for him.
In the temple to St. Francis you can contemplate Luke’s image of the Madonna and child, among many other works of art, and ask Luke for his help in your artistic pursuits.