Luke of Sicily

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Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Luke of Sicily, also Leo-Luke of Corleone, Leoluca or Leo Luke (ca.815/818 - ca. 910/915)[1][2][note 1] was the Abbot and Wonderworker of the Monastery of Mount Mula in Calabria, and one of the founders of Italo-Greek monasticism in southern Italy and Sicily.[note 2]

He was born in the Sicilian town of Corleone and died about a hundred years later in Monteleone Calabro, now Vibo Valentia, in Calabria. Today he is a patron saint of both towns. He died a centenarian after eighty years of monastic life,[3] and his feast day is observed on March 1.[3][4] He is buried in the San Leoluca Church in Corleone.


Saint Luke was born in Corleone, Sicily in the 9th century AD (c.815 to 818 AD),[1] on the eve of the Saracen invasion of Sicily.[note 3] His parents Leo and Theoktiste baptized him Leo. They were a pious and wealthy family who raised him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He was orphaned at an early age when his parents died, and devoted himself to managing the estate and supervising the herds. In the solitude of the fields he realized that he had a call to religious life, so he sold the estate, gave the money to the poor, and went to the monastery of St. Philip in Agira, in the province of Enna, Sicily.[4]

Due to the raids of the Saracens, he left from there and went to Calabria. Before going to Calabria however, he made a special point of going on pilgrimage to visit the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome.

In Calabria, he went to the Monastery of Mula, at Mount Mula (Monte La Mula ), one of the highest peaks of the Orsomarso mountains (1935 m), near Cassano. Here he became a monk, remaining for six years.[4]

In the second half of the ninth century, he left together with the Hegoumenos of the monastery Christopher, and they made their way to the mountainous region of ​​Merkourion in northern Calabria, an important center of monastic settlement which is referred to in several of the Vitae as the "New Thebaid".[5] Here they founded a new monastery, living there in asceticism for another seven years.

Once more they left and moved on to Vena (modern Avena, Calabria) to continue the spiritual struggle for another ten years. Here they built another monastery, which by the time of Hegoumenos Christopher's death had more than one-hundred monks in it. Saint Luke himself lived the solitary life nearby at Mormanno, Calabria.[2]

A little later, after the death of Abbot Christopher, Saint Luke became Abbot of the Monastery of Mount Mula. Here he began new ascetic struggles, and Holy God granted to him the gift of Wonderworking, and many faithful flocked to the holy ascetic to receive his blessing and be healed.[4] The Venerable Luke healed the sick, exorcized demons, raised paralytics, and guided the lost towards the path of salvation. He prayed without ceasing, and remained out in the cold up to twenty days, in order to intensify his ascetic struggle.[4]

In old age, he called the monks close to him, and foretold his end. He delegated the responsibility of the position of Hegumen to the monk Theodore, and assigned the priest Euthymios as his assistant.[4]

Having received Holy Communion, the Venerable Luke fell asleep in peace and was buried in the church of the Blessed Theotokos.[4]


Saint Luke's intercession is credited with saving the city of Corleone during an outbreak of the plague of 1575, and he was made the patron saint of that town. In addition, the apparition of Saint Leo Luke and Saint Anthony is credited with preventing a Bourbon invasion of Corleone on 27 May 1860.[6]

Today in Vibo Valentia in Calabria, his feast is celebrated on March 1 when the local fire brigade pay him homage by placing a crown of flowers at the feet of his statue which is located high on the façade of the Cathedral Church of Santa Maria Maggiore e San Leoluca.


  1. For Saint Luke's dates:
    • "Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome" (St John's Orthodox Church, Colchester) it gives "c.900" as his death date;
    • the online version of the "Great Synaxaristes" in Greek says he was born "around the 10th c.", and
    • Alban Butler's "Lives of the Saints: March" has "c.1000".
  2. "The term "Italo-Greek monasticism" refers to the implantation and history of Byzantine monasticism in Sicily and southern Italy. By the mid 9th c. Sicily was already reputed to be the home of numerous Greek hermits and small gatherings of monks famed for their ascetic experience. Substantial documentary evidence for the presence of Byzantine monks in southern Italy first appears in the 9th and 10th cc. and consists primarily in the lives of the great ascetic saints of this region."
    • (Robert E. Sinkewicz. "Italo-Greek". In: Richard Barrie Dobson. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 (K-Z). Eds.: André Vauchez, Michael Lapidge. Transl: Adrian Walford. Routledge, 2000. p.974.)
  3. The first Arab battle against Byzantine troops occurred on July 15, 827, near Mazara, resulting in an Aghlabid victory. It took over a century for Byzantine Sicily to be conquered. Syracuse held out for a long time, and Taormina fell in 902. Eventually all of Sicily was conquered by the Arabs in 965, and the Emirate of Sicily was formed, an Islamic state on the island of Sicily which existed from 965 to 1072.


  1. 1.0 1.1 (Italian) SAN LEOLUCA. Enrosadira.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rosemary Morris. Monks and Laymen in Byzantium, 843-1118. Cambridge University Press, 2003. p.173.
  3. 3.0 3.1 March 1. Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Great Synaxaristes: (Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Λουκᾶς ὁ ἐκ Σικελίας. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  5. Robert E. Sinkewicz. "Italo-Greek". In: Richard Barrie Dobson. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 (K-Z). Eds.: André Vauchez, Michael Lapidge. Transl: Adrian Walford. Routledge, 2000. pp.974-975.
  6. Saint Leolucas of Corleone. 25 February 2010.