The holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke, the companion of the Apostle Paul (Phil 1:24, 2 Tim 4:10-11), and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles. He was a native of Syrian Antioch and a physician, and is the founder of iconography.
His emblem is the calf, the third symbolical beast mentioned by Ezekiel (1:10), which is a symbol of Christ's sacrificial and priestly office, as pointed out by St. Irenaeus. His feast days are celebrated on October 18; on April 22 with Apostles Nathaniel and Clement; on June 20 on which day his relics, among others, were translated to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople; and on January 4, the synaxis of the Apostles.
Saint Luke, born in Antioch, studied Greek philosophy, medicine, and art in his youth. St. Luke came to Jerusalem where he came to believe in the Lord. He and Cleopas met the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).
After Pentecost, Luke returned to Antioch and worked with the Apostle Paul, traveling with him to Rome, and 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, St. Luke wrote his Gospel in the first century. According to some accounts this took place around 60 A.D., and according to others around 80 A.D. After St. Paul's martyrdom, 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—as well as icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. For this reason, St. Luke is considered the founder of Christian iconography. In his 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 age.
In addition to his Gospel, St. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles and dedicated each of these works to Theophilus, the governor of Achaia. Luke was 84 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. His miracle-working relics were transported to Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine.
- Speechless be the lips of impious ones,
- Those who do not reverence
- Your great icon, the sacred one
- Which is called Directress,
- And was depicted for us
- By one of the apostles,
- Luke the Evangelist.