and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
- Gospel of Luke 24:46
Saint Luke (Latin: Lucas, Greek : Λουκᾶς, Hebrew: לוקאס, Aramaic: /ܠܘܩܐ לוקא) is one of the four Evangelists and author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Together his writings, Saint Luke contributes more than a fourth of the text in the New Testament.
According to the Church historian Eusebius, Saint Luke was born in Antioch (Syria). It is traditionally believed that Saint Luke was now Jewish as he is not listed by Saint Paul as one of those of the circumcision. We know that he was Greek and a doctor. Through his extensive knowledge of the Mediterranean and prior visits to Colossians it is also very likely that he practiced medicine aboard ships at the time. In his Epistle to the Colossians, Saint Paul writes:
14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
In the Book of Acts we have the greatest evidence of when Saint Luke joined Saint Paul in his ministry. Until the sixteenth chapter, the Acts of the Apostles is written in the third person but switches suddenly in Acts 16 8-9:
8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
These passages also indicate that Saint Luke was already an evangelist by this time. He witnessed Saint Paul and Silas arrested (being charged with disturbing the peace in the city) but escaped with Saint Timothy (likely because neither physically resembled Jews at the time - Timothy's father was a gentile). In Acts we find that he was a constant visitor to Saint Paul during the two years of imprisonment at Caearea. Some historians believe that Saint Paul's epistle to the Hebrews was written during this time. Saint Luke travelled with Saint Paul on his journey to Rome, accompanying him on his voyage from Crete to Malta. Saint Luke continued to stay at Saint Paul's side during Saint Paul's imprisonment in Rome. Acts 28:16 records:
16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.
We can also find this in Philemon 23-24:
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
At the very end of his life with his martyrdom quickly approaching, Saint Paul wrote that Saint Luke was the last of his companions still with him in Rome. He writes in his final letter to Saint Timothy:
9 Do your best to come to me quickly,
10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
Saint Luke's gospel begins with this:
"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus"
Saint Luke's gospel included the personal testimony of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the only evangelist to do so in their Gospel) and acted in many ways as a scribe and biographer for Saint Paul. Renan in his Les Evangiles writes that Saint Luke's gospel is the most literary of the Gospels and that Saint Luke is a painter in words. His command of Greek is visible through the richness of vocabulary and freedom of constructions.
Tradition is mixed on his final days, with a consensus that he travelled the Mediterranean evangelizing before he himself being martyred. Saint Luke is often represented by the Ox or calf because his Gospel begins with the account of the priest Zachary, father of John the Baptist. He is described by many historians as not only an incredible writer, prolific evangelist, learned doctor but also a talented painter.
The relics of Saint Luke tell an interesting story. Tradition holds that George of Serbia bought the relics from Ottoman Sultan Mudrad II and through the family lineage was sold to the Venetian Republic. Currently, the relics are kept in the following locations:
The body in the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua
The head in the Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague
One rib at his tomb in Thebes.