Genealogy of a Picture
Constantine and his entire family, including his mother Helena and much of his court, had converted to Christianity. Because of this, Empress Helena organized the expedition - in which she intended to find the wooden cross of Jesus.
Helena had great success - in addition to finding the wood of the cross, she received, to her surprise, from her Christian women, a great gift: the art piece painted by Luke with the perfect features of Mary.
Empress Helena sent it to her son, Emperor Constantine, who received the gift with immense joy and happiness, having the piece of art placed in her private chapel, where it was kept safely for more than 400 years. That same picture was later sent to a castle in Russia, called Belz, and stayed there for a long, long time.
Later on, Russia was defeated in a war against Hungary and Poland. Prince Ladislaus received, as spoils of war, the castle of Belz and there found the painting. The monarch was fascinated and installed the painting in the chapel of his palace. Then Ladislaus sent the painting to Opole, Poland, the capital of his principality. There, the painting was kept on a hill not far from the city of Czestochowa. In 1382, the painting was handed over to the Pauline brothers, who received a large sum of money from Prince Ladislaus to build a convent and church there to guard and preserve the fresco by Luke the Evangelist.
On November 27, 1429, Pope Martin V raised the convent to sanctuary status. A year later, the painting on the cedar top of Mary's prayer table, done by Luke the Evangelist, ended up being cut into pieces by pagan robbers, who invaded the sanctuary in search of gold.
Later on, Luke's painting was exquisitely restored by the hands of an unknown European master.
Today, this picture is found in Poland. The artwork has some scars on Mary's face that could not be removed in order to not spoil the perfection of the features made by the master, Luke the Evangelist.
Due to the hundreds of thousands of candles lit near the painting over two thousand years ago, the black soot of the smoke from these candles made Mary's face turn black. Thus, this painting became known as the "Black Madonna of Czestochowa".
Icon of Virgin Mary at Monastery of Saint Mark, Jerusalem
believed to be painted by Luke the Evangelist.
Luke the Evangelist, miniature from the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany, Queen consort of France (1477-1514) – by Jean Bourdichon (1457 or 1459 – 1521) was a French miniature painter and manuscript illuminator at the court of France between the end of the 15th century and the start of the 16th century, in the reigns of Louis XI of France, Charles VIII of France, Louis XII of France and Francis I of France. He was probably born in Tours, and was a pupil of Jean Fouquet. He died in Tours.
Two of Bourdichon's most famous works are the Hours of Louis XII (now dispersed, begun 1498) and the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany for Louis's queen