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.