Saint Luke is the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, mentioned by  St. Paul as “the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14. Precious little is known about St Luke. His name was likely to be Lucanos in Greek, Lucianus in  Latin. Luke is an apocope of his name as “Joe” is of “Joseph” in the English language.  His name simply means “light” or “source of light”. Keep this in mind because it is very important. Lucanus was most likely a Syrian of Greek origin, a pagan gentile who converted to Christianity.  In the Epistle to the Colossians, St Paul mentions him among those who are “not of the circumcision”. Just as Matthew’s Gospel is directed to the Jews, the Gospel According to St Luke is directed to the gentiles.  Luke is to St Paul what St John is to Jesus: in the final chains of imprisonment, Paul the Apostle reports that only Luke remained with him. (2 Timothy 4:11). He is represented by the ox, a symbol of loyal, steady service and sacrifice.

When I was researching the material for the book Guadalupe: A River of Light, the idea came to me that St Luke could have been the heavenly author of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously depicted on St Juan Diego’s tilma. Later on I was told that some see the Spanish word for light, ‘luz’ concealed in the folds of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s dress. I have tried to depict it in this image:


I wonder if that is St Luke’s signature since that is exactly the meaning of his name. Spaniards could read that as “light” and both Spaniards and native Mexicans could see “light” in the halo that completely surrounds Our Lady, “dressed with the sun” as the woman depicted in St John’s Apocalypse (see Revelation 12). Notice there is also an image of Our Crucified Lord concealed in the shades right below the knee of Our Lady. She is pictured “walking” and the most forward point of her body is her left knee reminding us of “if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” John 1:7.

Here is a brief quote from  Guadalupe: A River of Light.

The town of Guadalupe in Spain is home to one of the great treasures of Christianity, an image of the Virgin Mary holding the Child that according to ancient Christian traditions was carved by St Luke, the author of the Gospel that bears his name. St Luke’s original name may have been Lucanus;[1] we know he was born in Antioch of Syria and it is likely that he studied medicine in Tarsus. In Colossians 4:14 St Paul calls him “the beloved physician”. Through Nicaphorus Callistus (14th century), and the Menology of Basil II (10th century) we know he was also a painter.

The Catholic Encyclopedia declares: “A picture of the Virgin in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, is ascribed to him and can be traced to a.D. 847 it is probably a copy of that mentioned by Theodore Lector, in the sixth century. This writer states that the Empress Eudoxia found a picture of the Mother of God at Jerusalem, which she sent to Constantinople (see “Acta SS.” of 18 October). As Plummer observes, it is certain that St Luke was an artist, at least to the extent that his graphic descriptions of the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Shepherds, Presentation, the Good Shepherd, etc., have become the inspiring and favorite themes of Christian painters.” [2]

From all the information we have about St Luke we can safely deduct that he was Greek, a convert to Judaism who later accepted Christianity. He was also a dedicated evangelist who traveled with St Paul and St Mark.[3] The brief introduction found in Luke 1:1-4 shows that he was dedicated to accurately preserve the truth of the Gospel researching the facts from very early witnesses. “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”[4]

The Gospel According to St Luke is often called “the Gospel of Mary” and it is certain that Luke had the opportunity to know and interview Mary of Nazareth while she was living in Ephesus. The early Christian traditions in Europe talk of many paintings and sculptures of Our Lady attributed to St Luke. The amazing story of Our Lady of Guadalupe begins with an image that was buried with him when he died. In De Viris Illustribus[5] St Jerome reports “his bones and relics are buried in Constantinople, transferred there along with those of the Apostle Andrew.”[6]

St Luke died in Thebes in the Bœotia region of ancient Greece at the age of seventy-four.[7] A statuette representing the Virgin and Child – carved by Luke himself – was buried with him.

Our Catholic faith is filled with treasures that have been left to gather dust in the attic while recent generations wander collecting shiny trinkets of little value we now call “ideologies” of various origins. How good it would be if we could turn the attention of scholars and laymen to those forgotten treasures. St Luke, who in this world contemplated the true face of Our Blessed Mother, and now have the grace of her company in Heaven, pray for us. Our Church is in great need of light.


[1] The meaning of the name Lucanus is “circled, surrounded by light”.

[2] The Gospel of St Luke, as quoted online in

[3] See Acts 16:8; 2 Timothy 4:7-11; Colossians 4:14, and Philemon 24.

[4] Luke 1:1-4.

[5] De Viris Illustribus, (On Illustrious Famous Men) by St Jerome, Scriptura Press, New York City, 2015.

[6] “Sepultus est Constantinopoli, ad quam urbem vigesimo Constantii anno, ossa ejus cum reliquiis Andreæ Apostoli translata sunt.” De Viris Illustribus 3, 7

[7] “After St Paul’s martyrdom practically all that is known about him is contained in the ancient Prefatio vel Argumentum Lucæ, dating back to Julius Africanus, who was born circa A.D. 165. This states that he was unmarried, that he wrote the Gospel, in Achaia, and that he died at the age of seventy-four in Bithynia (probably a copyist’s error for Bœotia), filled with the Holy Ghost.” Catholic Encyclopedia; The Gospel of St Luke, as quoted online in