Medium: Illuminated Manuscript
Size: 30.3 x 25.8 cm
Date: c. 860
Location: The Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
TWENTY SAINTS IN TWENTY DAYS: PART 19 – ST LUKE THE EVANGELIST
St Luke the Evangelist was an Early Christian writer who the Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius said was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Modern scholarship reinforces the view that the author of these two books is one and the same. One of the most extensive writers of the New Testament, his Gospel is considerably longer than St. Matthew's, his two books are about as long as St. Paul's fourteen Epistles. Luke was a Greco-Syrian physician who lived in the Greek city of Antioch in Ancient Syria. His earliest notice is in Paul's Epistle to Philemon, verse 24. He is also mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11, two works commonly ascribed to Paul. Luke died at age 84 in Boeotia, according to a "fairly early and widespread tradition". According to Nikiphoros-Kallistos Xanthopoulos and others, Luke's Tomb was located in Thebes (Greece), from whence his relics were transferred to Constantinople in the year 357.
This, the only Reims Gospel Book written in gold, is an exquisite example of a Carolingian manuscript. As is usual in illustrated Gospel Books, a "portrait" of an Evangelist precedes each of the four Gospels. Such author portraits were derived from antique models; here Luke wears a Roman toga and holds a basket containing scrolls, the standard book form in antiquity.
The most distinctive and influential center of Carolingian illumination was Reims, which flourished during the reigns of Charlemagne and his successors. St. Remi was then under the brilliant leadership of Archbishop Hincmar (845–82), counselor of Emperor Charles the Bald (r. 840–77), grandson of Charlemagne. The volume was rebound in the 18th century and arms of the Abbaye de St-Remy stamped on back. It was kept at the monastery at least until 1790, when the Revolutionary authorities removed 248 manuscripts. It eventually ended up for sale in Paris in 1828.