St. Luke – The Evangelist Collection of Church Vestments

The calendar says it is Spring but the seasonal change is still a long way off for Northern Minnesota.  After the long grey days of winter pass, one often longs for the signs and sight spring flowers and blossoms.

St. Louis Art Museum. From the Private Collection of Carrie Roberts. March 2018.

This year, we had the pleasure of a brief escape at the end of winter with a weekend in St. Louis.  The weather was mild in the mid 60’s. Tiny specks of green were making their way up through the soil. Trees were budding out and the robins were seen in abundance.

St. Louis Art Museum. From the Private Collection of Carrie Roberts. March 2018.

One afternoon was spent visiting the  St. Louis Art Museum and spring was everywhere! It was the weekend for Art in Bloom.


St. Louis Art Museum. From the Private Collection of Carrie Roberts. March 2018.

And it was an entirely different way to enjoy a visit to the Art Museum.

In addition to the lovely flowers that were located throughout the museum, there were many pieces in the collection that captured my attention, and I hope to share some of those with you over the next few weeks and months.

Of particular notice was this statue of St. Luke.

St. Luke, French, 15th Century, St. Louis Art Museum,  from the private collection of Carrie Roberts, March 2018

St. Luke is seated at a desk where he is busy either with his writing or creating a painting. At his feet is a bull or ox which often is used as a symbol to represent him. St. Luke is one of the Four Evangelist or writers of the Gospel accounts. The term is fitting because Evangelist means someone who proclaims the good news. The Evangelists proclaimed the good news of Christ in the Four Gospel accounts which are named after them: St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John.

St. Luke. French. 15th Century. St. Louis Art Museum. From the private collection of Carrie Roberts. March 2018.

The Gospel account by St. Luke has always been a personal favorite. Luke is an eloquent author who provides a detailed historical account of Christ’s birth, beginning with Zechariah entering the temple to burn incense. The ox is an interesting symbol. In the Old Testament, oxen were sacrificial animals and it is fitting as a representation of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.

St. Luke. French. 15th Century. St. Louis  Art Museum.  From the private collection of Carrie Robert.  March 2018.


But where did the idea come from for this image? The answer can perhaps be found in several accounts from the Bible. Ezekiel 1-1:28 has an account of the author’s vision of the four winged creatures which had faces of the Ox, Eagle, and Lion.

Revelation also provides the description below:

 Also in front of the throne, there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front, and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Over the years, there have been many attempts at illustrating the visions of these winged creatures.Images can be found in illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, paintings, drawings, and even needlework.

In my research on historical needlework, I have come across several sets of  Evangelist designs. While it would be wonderful to bring each set back to life, we had to settle on one set (at least for now). The Bull of St. Luke is one of the images in Ecclesiastical Sewing’s Evangelist Collection which is available for use on stoles, altar hangings, and other items of church vestments.

Soli Deo Gloria


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