Icon of the Madonna by St. Luke, believed to accurately depict face of Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Luke painted this Icon of Mary (about the year 60 AD) while she was staying with St. John the Apostle. According to tradition, when St. Luke “wrote” the Icon, he accurately rendered the Blessed Virgin’s authentic facial features.

The Icon was written directly onto a three foot by five foot cedar plank, believed to be part of a table that Jesus had originally hand crafted during his time in Nazareth. When Mary went to stay with St. John, in Ephesus (a town located in southwestern Turkey) the table evidently made the trip, as well.

Lost for over 200 years, the Icon was discovered by St. Helena (mother of Emperor Constantine) in Jerusalem, buried near the True Cross, on or about the year 326 AD.

The title of the Icon is Salus Populi Romani (“Protectoress of the Roman People”). It is the only major Icon attributed to Saint Luke (who is also the writer of  the Gospel bearing his name, “the Acts of the Apostles” and most of St. Paul’s epistles.)

St. Luke is also believed to have been a physician (medical doctor).

Tradition and history informs us that St. Luke’s Icon has resided in St. Mary Major Basilica, Rome, for about 1,700 years.

Click here to read more about Icons


  1. I

    am working on a manuscript.. need to know something about you to credit source.

  2. really, she looked like a man ?I doubt that is an accurate picture. Luke was a doctor, poet and writer. not an artist. and if he painted her at 60 she would not have looked like that anyway.

  3. and that is not a realistic picture of a baby . so I doubt it is a realistic picture of the baby’s mother.

  4. Lucy….Titian painted Elizabeth I as a beautiful ‘English Rose’ in her 20’s when she was actually 52 at the time…..so why the doubt? He would have had a better perception of her youthful looks than anyone living today.

    • I don’t know who Titan is. Luke did not paint that picture. he was no a painter. and the lady in the picture does not look Jewish. 60 ad would put mary very very old or dead. so how would you believe this to be accurate?

      • Wished I would have seen this earlier. Lucy, how would you know what she would have looked like? Mary is the Immaculate Conception which means that she was sinless from birth till the end of her life. How do you know when she died or how old? If many saints who are called “incorruptible” still look the same now as they did when the died hundreds of years ago, wouldn’t you think that God preserved the image of His mother too? As for the child Jesus, obviously it is just a painter’s imagination there since Jesus had already died, resurrected, and ascended into heaven by this time. BTW, she looks BEAUTIFUL! Great icon of Luke-Peace

  5. There are several icons in the Christian East that are attributed to the hand of St. Luke. They are all wax encaustic, a medium that was used for a short period in the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt, to make images on convex boards. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had a large exhibit of these types of images in the 1990s. My research indicates that there are thirteen images in Orthodox Christian monasteries that are attributed to the hand of St. Luke.

  6. Is a print of the icon available for purchase?

  7. I have this belief that at some point mother Mary might have met St. Luke. He is the only person who gives us details about the infancy and birth of Jesus Christ.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s