Saturday, October 18, 2008

St. Luke the Evangelist

 Icon of Christ appearing to Sts. Luke and Cleopas on the way to Emmaus after His Resurrection (taken from

The following is from the Prologue of Ochrid by St. Nikolai for the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (October 18th):

"Luke was born in Antioch. In his youth, he excelled in his studies of Greek philosophy, medicine and art. During the ministry of the Lord Jesus on earth, Luke came to Jerusalem, where he saw the Savior face to face, heard His saving teaching and was witness to His miraculous works. Coming to belief in the Lord, St. Luke was numbered among the Seventy Apostles, and was sent out to preach. With Cleopas, he saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Luke returned to Antioch and there became a fellow worker of the Apostle Paul and traveled to Rome with him, converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. Luke, the beloved physician, … greets you, writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians. (Colossians 4:14). At the request of Christians, he wrote his Gospel in about the year 60. Following the martyrdom of the great Apostle Paul, St. Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia and other regions. He painted icons of the Most-holy Theotokos-not just one, but three-and icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Hence, St. Luke is considered to be the founder of Christian iconography.

Icon of St. Luke painting the first icons of the Theotokos and Christ under divine inspiration. When the Theotokos saw the icons St. Luke had painted of her, she said, "May the grace of Him who was born of me and my mercy be with these icons!" (Icons courtesy of used with permission)

In old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt. From Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many with great zeal despite his old age. In addition to his Gospel, St. Luke wrote the Acts and dedicated both works to Theophilus, the governor of Achaia. Luke was eighty-four years old when the wicked idolaters tortured him for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Boethia. The miracle-working relics of this wonderful saint were transported to Constantinople in the reign of Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine." (taken from the Prologue of St. Nikolai:; another account is available here:
Exterior of the Church of St. Luke the Evangelist in Thebes, Greece, in which is his sacred Tomb (
The tomb of St. Luke exists to this day in the city of Thebes in Northern Greece, where they continue to celebrate his memory. In fact, every year his tomb gives off a miraculous liquid that performs many miracles, and especially heals people with eye trouble.

Saint Luke the Apostle and Evangelist
(by St. Nikolai Velimirovich)
The divine Luke, both wise and learned,
Was tortured willingly for the Lord.
He could have avoided mockery and torture,
But the world would not have had the great Luke.
The young Luke beheld God's truth
And surrendered his heart to the Son of God.
He hearkened to the Teacher, beheld the Wonderworker,
And in Him he recognized the Immortal Creator.
He beheld the Resurrected One, and spoke with Him,
And worked miracles in His name.
Christ became his only joy,
And Luke sacrificed his mind, wealth and youth to Him.
When Luke became old, he was young in Christ,
And gave to the world what he received from the Lord.
And when he had given the world all he could give,
Then the world, fulfilling the Scripture, repaid him with contempt.
From an old olive tree the aged Luke hung,
With a smile on his face and his arms folded crosswise.
And the hand of Christ came down from heaven
And received the soul of His Evangelist.
Now, in radiant Paradise with the other apostles,
St. Luke prays for the Holy Church.
(taken from the Prologue of St. Nikolai:
Mosaic from Kykkos Monastery depicting the Theotokos asking St. Luke to paint the first icons of her and Christ, along with the Archangel Gabriel (who according to another tradition gave him three boards on which to paint icons) (taken from:
The miraculous icon of the Theotokos Kykkotissa from the Monastery of Kykkos on Cyprus. It is one of the icons attributed to St. Luke, and many miracles occur there through the grace of the Panagia. It is interesting to note that according to the will of Emperor Alexios, the faces of Christ and the Theotokos are ever covered with a cloth out of great reverence. (taken from:

Many icons have been attributed to St. Luke throughout the Orthodox world. Some of these include Panagia "Megalospileotissa", or "of the Great Cave" near Achaia (, Panagia Soumela in Beroia (, Panagia Kykkotissa in Cyprus (website of the Monastery in Greek:, Panagia of Agiassou ( Tikhvin icon of the Theotokos (, Panagia Malevi ( and as many as seventy others, according to some sources. And regardless of whether or not it can be proven that St. Luke actually painted all such icons, endless miracles of the Theotokos continue to occur throughout the world through her holy icons, and the great and holy work of iconography enacted by St. Luke and sanctified through Christ continues to enrich the Church.

Another mosaic from Kykkos Monastery of St. Luke showing the icon to the Theotokos, and the Theotokos blessing it (taken from:
Fresco from Decani Monastery depicting the translation of the Relics of St. Luke the Evangelist (taken from:
On a side note, in 1992, then Metropolitan Ieronymos (now the Archbishop of Greece) made a formal request to the Catholic Archbishop of Padua to return a significant portion of the relics of St. Luke to his tomb in Thebes. This ended up prompting a large scientific endevour to determine if the relics in St. Justina's Church in Padua are really those belonging to the Evangelist. After many investigations, including DNA analyses (which linked the remains to someone of Syriac origin; St. Luke was born in Antioch), C-14 dating, and measurements of the lead sarcophagus, which actually matched the dimensions to the milimeter of St. Luke's tomb in Thebes, it was determined that there was significant scientific evidence that these remains belonged to St. Luke. To honor the Metropolitan's request, the Archbishop of Padua gave the Church in Thebes a rib from St. Luke, and the one closest to his heart. Thus, the Tomb of St. Luke in Thebes also bears a portion of his holy and grace-filled relics. For more information see
May St. Luke the Evangelist intercede for all of us and help us!

Icon of St. Luke the Evangelist (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

Stichera Tone 8. What may we call you.
What may I name you, Apostle? Heaven, for you declared the glory of God. Lightning, for you irradiate the world by your illumination. Cloud, that rains down divine streams. Mixing-bowl overflowing with the inspired wine of wisdom, wine that makes hearts glad. Intercede that our souls may be saved.

How may I now address you, O inspired by God? River, coming forth from Paradise for us. Ark of the covenant which Christ laid down. Beacon, blazing with spiritual light. Lamp, that irradiates the Church. Bread of life, divine table, cup of divine drink. Intercede that our souls may be saved.

What titles may I address you by, Inspired of God? Disciple, for you to us you proclaimed the good tidings: Christ. Physician, for you heal the passions of our souls. Lamp, blazing with spiritual light. Base and foundation of the faith, for it was you who traced out for us the all-revered Gospel. Intercede that our souls may be saved.

Apolytikion. Tone 3.
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, intercede with the merciful God to grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

(translated by Fr. Ephraim Lash:

St. Luke the Evangelist, with scenes from his life (
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Karen Beaumont said...

I was wondering if you would be willing to share the Emmaus icon with me for my Facebook page and possibly for my blog. Karen Beaumont

Aditya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Agioi_Anargyroi said...

Regarding the icon, it's not mine, so I can't give permission to use it or not. However the link to where I found it is provided, and I don't remember seeing anywhere on the site that its use should be restricted.

And as I mention on the sidebar: "Comments that are irrelevant to the topic of the post will be deleted."

Leslie said...

Hi Agioi,
Did you visit the church of St. Luke and his tomb in Thiva personally? I am planning a trip to Greece in September and would like to visit this church but cannot find it on a map. Do you have any information about its location?

Thank you,

Agioi_Anargyroi said...


I have not had the blessing of visiting the tomb of St. Luke the Evangelist. I wish that things work out for you on your upcoming trip.

From what I can glean online, the church of St. Luke the Evangelist (where he was buried) is in the 1st Cemetary (i.e. the Old Cemetary) of Thebes (Thiva).

Here is a picture that someone posted online linked to a map:ΘΗΒΑ-ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΕΣ-ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΤΗΣ%20ΛΟΥΚΑΣ%20(ΠΑΛΑΙΟ%20ΚΟΙΜΗΤΗΡΙΟ%20ΘΗΒΑΣ)

It appears to be at the intersection of "Oplarchegou Vogle" and "Anapafseos" streets.

Leslie said...

Thanks very much! That map is exactly what I needed!


Knowledge said...

You can share it with her because these are not the original images. These are replicas that have lightened to look white. Look up Black Madonna and Jesus and you will see most of these images in it's original state. The Black Madonna (Mary) is who the Pope prays to.

Knowledge said...

You can share it with her because these are not the original images. These are replicas that have lightened to look white. Look up Black Madonna and Jesus and you will see most of these images in it's original state. The Black Madonna (Mary) is who the Pope prays to.