Thursday, October 2, 2008

St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol the Surgeon

St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol the Surgeon (1877-1961)
Feastday: June 11th / May 29th

St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

(His troparion as translated from the original Russian and included in the latest addition of the Blessed Surgeon; see the bottom of the page for more info)
Troparion of St. Luke of Simferopol - Tone 1
O herald of the way of salvation, confessor and archpastor of the Crimean flock, faithful keeper of the traditions of the fathers, unshakeable pillar and teacher of Orthodoxy, pray unceasingly to Christ our Saviour to grant salvation and strong faith to Orthodox Christians, O holy hierarch Luke, physician wise in God.

(Another Apolytikion in Greek from the publication of the Monastery of Sagmata)

Απολυτίκιον. Ήχος πλ. α'. Τον συνάναρχον λόγον.
Ιατρόν και ποιμένα, Λουκά τιμήσωμεν, * Συμφερουπόλεως ποίμνης, Αρχιερέα λαμπρόν, * τον βαστάσαντα Χριστού τα θεία στίγματα, * τας εξορίας, τα δεινά, * εγκλεισμούς εν φυλακαίς, τας θλίψεις και τα ονείδη, * τον επ' εσχάτων φανέντα, εν τη Ρωσία νέον Άγιον.

(amateur translation of the above Greek apolytikion)
Another Apolytikion of St. Luke of Simferopol - Plagal of the 1st Mode.
O physician and shepherd, let us all honor Luke, as Simferopol's shepherd and a radiant Archpriest, who bore Christ's divine marks, exiles, dangers, being locked within prisons, tribulations and persecution, for in the last days has shown forth, in Russia a new Saint.

His story is truly inspirational, and I hope to include a brief overview (translated, excerpted and summarized from the following book and the links at the bottom of the page, and elsewhere). For the full story of his life, see: The Blessed Surgeon: The Life of Saint Luke Archbishop of Simferopol by Archdeacon Vasiliy Marushchak (available here:
Other summaries of St. Luke's life is available in English here:,, and

Picture of St. Luke as a young man (taken from:
Life of St. Luke (brief outline)
St. Luke was born Valentine of Felix Voino-Yassenetsky in Kertz on April 27th 1877. His mother was Orthodox, but later did not attend church, while his father, a Roman Catholic, was deeply pious and influenced Valentine very much. His faith was much influenced by both his proximity to the Holy Lavra of the Kiev Caves (which his family lived near) and a copy of the Holy Bible he received upon graduating High School. He had a great talent for and desire to pursue art, however, his desire to do something to help the poor peasants around him was overriding, and he attended medical school in Kiev, and graduated in 1903.

St. Luke as young man painting, studying and graduating from medical school (source)
In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War brought Valentine to the Far East as a surgeon, where he met his future wife Anna Vasilievna Lanskaya. They married and had four children. During this time, as a surgeon, Valentine became specially trained in opthamological operations, along with regional anesthesia and the surgery of pyogenic infections (which later became areas of research for him). He also displayed immense faith in those difficult times. The family would entertain a nun from the Fiodorovski monastery once a month, and they would attending church regularly. Valentine would also refuse to perform an operation without first praying before an icon of the Theotokos in the operating room, and then signing the patient with iodine in the sign of the Cross. In fact, one time the Communist Party officials removed the icon, at which point Valentine refused to return to surgery until it would be returned. Soon, the wife of one of the party officials needed an operation, and specifically requested Valentine. He, however, refused to perform the surgery until the icon of the Panagia was returned. They complied with his request, and he returned to surgery.
St. Luke in the operating room, serving his family at home, and seeking the help of his nurse with his children following her repose (source)
Valentine's wife, who came down with tuberculosis, died prematurely. Though Valentine grieved deeply for his wife, he was able to see the hand of the Lord guiding him even through this difficult time, both by Him choosing one of the nurses to help raise his children, and by calling him to the priesthood. In obedience to Archbishop Innocent, Valentine hastily followed Christ's divine call, and was ordained a deacon on January 26th, and a priest on February 2nd, 1921.

The persecution of the Church by the Communists, and the call of St. Luke to the priesthood (source)
In fact, because of the need for a bishop, Fr. Valentine also obeyed the call of the people and underwent the monastic tonsure (being given the name "Luke", after the Evangelist whom he resembled) and was consecrated a bishop.

St. Luke being persecuted and interrogated by the Communists (source)
This period of time was extremely difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church, as they were constantely being assulted from the right (zealots and schismatics) and from the left (the athiest government and their heretical "Living Church"). Because of St. Luke's confessions of faith (and despite his immense medical and scientific achievements), he was imprisoned, tortured, and exiled for 11 years in total to Siberia, and other trecherous locales. Besides persecution from the government, he had to deal with heretics from the "Living Church" who masqueraded as Orthodoxy and drew people away from the Church, and schismatic individuals who also caused unneeded harm in those turbulent years.

St. Luke praying before his surgeries and operating before the Theotokos' icon in the operating room (source)
St. Luke's virtues, struggles and achievements are staggering. As a Grace-filled hierarch of the Church, he re-opening many churches that had been closed by the Communists, produced deep theologic works, and supported the faithful while drawing many to Orthodoxy.

St. Luke being betrayed for his faith and imprisoned, where he still showed love and compassion for his fellow men (source)
In addition, his love, skill and devotion to his patients saved thousands, (especially injured soldiers in war), and his research techniques were award-winning, and were claimed to be important to his fellow surgeons fifty years later. After a lifetime of such medical accomplishments and spiritual struggles in his confession for the Faith, St. Luke reposed in the Lord as the Archbishop of Simferopol (Crimea) on June 11th (New Calendar) 1961.

After his repose
St. Luke's incredible virtues, love for the Lord and his fellow men, and accomplishments helped sustain the faithful immensely in those difficult days of the Atheist state. After his death, the Communist Party sought to use propaganda and intimidation to minimize his achievements, but the overwhelming love and devotion of the faithful thwarted their plans.

St. Luke writing theological works and medical studies, serving as a bishop, and continuing pastoral care for his patients and spiritual children (source)
Whereas the funeral procession was supposed to last a few minutes without psalmody or honor, it ended up lasting hours, as the faithful planted themselves around the hurse, and did not let it speed away to the cemetary. Miraculously, a huge flock of doves followed the procession from the church to the cemetary.

The burial of St. Luke (source)
Picture of the Tomb of St. Luke in Simferopol (taken from:
On March 17th 1996, St. Luke's remains were disinterred, with an estimated 40,000 people taking part. It is said that an indescribable aroma arouse from his relics, while his heart was discovered incorrupt, a testament to the great love he bore towards Christ and his fellow men. Three days later on March 20th 1996, his relics were transferred to the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Icon depicting the uncovering of the Holy Relics of St. Luke the Surgeon on March 17th, 1996 in Simferopol, Crimea (source)
In November of 1995 he was announced as a Saint by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and was officially glorified by the Patriarchate of Russia May 25, 1996. He is commemorated by the church June 11 the anniversary of his falling asleep in the Lord.

Another icon of St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol, with the Gospel and surgical tools depicted (taken from:
Miracles throughout the world
The Church of the Holy Trinity and the Tomb of St. Luke have become a great pilgrimage for the world. Many from Russia, Ukraine, Greece, and beyond flock to not only the Tomb and Relics of this great Saint, but to visit many of the other churches and cities visited by St. Luke during his travels and exiles. Many miracles occur through his prayers throughout the world.
Besides being beloved in Russia and the Ukraine, St. Luke is also very well-loved in Greece. Specifically, the life of St. Luke, written by Archimandrite and Abbot of the Monastery of Sagmata, Fr. Nektarios Antonopoulos, has sold thousands of copies, and is in its 14th edition of printing. Many churches (some of them quite large) have been built in honor of St. Luke of Simferopol in Greece alone in recent years.

One incredible miracle involved a young boy named Nazar who was an excellent piano player. The tips of three of his fingers were cut off accidentally, and he was afraid that he would never be able to play piano again. After he and his grandmother prayed to St. Luke to help him, his fingers began to spontaneously regrow, and in 10 days, were totally normal! Today, the boy plays better with that hand than his other, unaffected hand.

May St. Luke, the great defender of Orthodoxy in these latter days, the wondrous healer of souls and bodies, the teacher, the hierarch, and the holy father, intercede with Christ for all of us! Amen!

St. Luke the Surgeon of Simferopol (
Selected spiritual quotes of St. Luke, from letters to his spiritual children (amateur translation)
“Now we do not understand their meaning, but later we will understand them. Now we sense that we are treated unjustly and cursed. Later we will understand that from everything we would have an awesome benefit: a humble mind.”

“You, now, should try to entreat God as much as you can with prayer and ascesis. Keep the canon that was given to you by your spiritual father, and try to feel God.”

“Do all things in order to seek Him and place Him within your heart. Your little heart should soften, my child, from the touch of grace, every instant when you think how much God loves you and how much he has protected your from spiritual death, protecting you from the filth that the demons bring to the mind of men...”

“May the sweetest Jesus be always in your thoughts, may He be a harbor to which you return again and again...Furthermore, do not cease to call upon the Panagia to help whenever you have need, and more.”
“Continue your path with courage, with much courage. Let your heart rejoice in the Lord, and He will grant it all nourishments [lit. vitamins] and all energy that is needed so that it does not collapse. Nothing should seem difficult to you.”

“Someone Else, my brother, rules everything and not the greats of this world...”

“Courage, courage; gaze high and you will see the Lord, when you weep, when you seek with longing, when you bleed, then you will see how He stretched out His Beloved and Comforting hand with a  crown.”

“Do not be troubled, do not mourn more than is right, because thus you give rights to the evil one to hit you with strength...”
“Remember, remember my beloved child, that all of the happenings of our life are part of the utterly unknown economy of God.”

“Make your heart a monastery. There sound the semandron, there call your vigil, cense and whisper ceaseless prayers. God is next to you...”
St. Luke of Simferopol, with scenes from his life (
Pilgrimages of the Saint
Some of St. Luke's most notable pilgrimages include: the Holy Trinity Church, Simferopol, Ukraine (where they treasure the majority of the Saint's relics, along with his wonderworking tomb), The Monastery of the Transfiguration, Sagmata, outside of Thebes, Greece (where they have a chapel and holy relics of the Saint, and many of his personal articles; see:, and the Monastery of Panagia Dobra, Veria, Greece (where they treasure a large relic of the Saint, and where I believe they are building the first large church of the Saint in the world; Note that every Tuesday evening they hold Vespers and Paraklesis to St. Luke.

2000 pilgrims from Larissa (not on a feast day) visiting the large Church of St. Luke of Simferopol (still under construction) at the Monastery of Panagia Dobra, Veria (source)
Other chapels / holy relics of St. Luke include: the Military Medical Academy, Belgrade, Serbia, the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, Piraeus, Greece (where in the chapel of St. Luke they hold Vespers and Paraklesis to the Saint every Sunday evening), The Monastery of the Transfiguration, Dryovouno-Kozani (, and St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church, USA (ROCOR) (
The Holy Relics of St. Luke of Simferopol, treasured by the Monastery of Sagmata, Thebes, Greece (
To purchase the latest addition of The Blessed Surgeon, which besides a detailed biography includes the service (Great Vespers, Orthros, Divine Liturgy and Akathist) to St. Luke of Simferopol (translated from the original Russian I believe), see:
For an account of Gerontissa Nantieznta, one of St. Luke's Spiritual children, see:
Photograph of St. Luke of Simferopol (taken from:

Additional links about St. Luke
-"The Spiritual Testament" of St. Luke (in Greek):
-An article by St. Luke on Science and Religion, translated into English:
-A talk by Fr. Nektarios Antonopoulos on St. Luke (in Greek): The transcript of the talk in English and Greek is available here, respectively:,
-A very comprehensive, commonly updated page about St. Luke in Greek: .
-Many pictures of St. Luke (along with other Saints and Icons):
-Paraklesis to St. Luke of Simferopol (in Greek) chanted by the Fathers of the Monastery of Panagia Dobra:
St. Luke of Simferopol (detail) (Source:
Prayer of the Sick to St. Luke of Simferopol (amateur translation)
O holy Hierarch, confessor, teacher of the truth and unmercenary physician Luke, we bend the knees of our souls and bodies and fall before your precious and healing relics, and we entreat you, as children to their father. Hearken unto us sinners, O precious father, and present our entreaty to the merciful God Who loves mankind, for you are before Him with all the saints. We believe that you love us for with this love you loved your brothers during your earthly life.

For using the art of medicine, you healed all manner of illnesses of the sick, with the help of grace. And after your sacred repose, the Master of all showed your grace-flowing relics to be a spring of healing. For various diseases are healed, and power is granted to those who piously embrace them and entreat your divine intercession.

Therefore we entreat you and fervently ask of you, who were granted the grace of healing: visit and heal our sick and terribly needy brother/sister/bretherin (name) from his/her/their continuing sickness.

All-precious and most-holy father Luke, the steady hope of the sick and troubled, do not neglect to grant our brother/sister/bretherin (name) healing and all good things.

That we might with you glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the one godhead and kingdom, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol, intercede for us and help us all!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." "Lazarus, come out!" St. Luke, pray for us, to carry all illnesses, diseases and infirmities in my son, nieces, nephews, godchild (parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents (step)) for cleansing, healing, deliverance.