Saint Luke

Feast Day - August 27

Patron of Physicians and Surgeons

Saint LukeLuke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St.  Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician."  We know few other facts about Luke's life from Scripture and from early Church historians.  It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile.  Not only do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician. 

We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry.  We know nothing about his conversion but looking at the language of Acts we can see where he joined Saint Paul.  Luke first joined Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they traveled first to Samothrace, Neapolis, and finally Philippi.  Luke was not thrown into prison with Paul and that when Paul left Philippi Luke stayed behind to encourage the Church there.  Seven years passed before Paul returned to the area on his third missionary journey.  They traveled together through Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem.  Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61.  And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end.

Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels.  Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice.  He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him.  Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes.  Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53). 

Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary.  It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem.  It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth. 

Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke.  Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father.  Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears.  Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy. 

Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom, opened to all, who respected women and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.  He is often shown with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice -- the sacrifice Jesus made for all the world. 

Prayers to St. Luke

In times of need we often turn to the saints for intercession to God on our behalf. Saint Luke, the Evangelist, is the patron saint of physicians, surgeons and artists. A person who asks St. Luke for intercession may use one of the following prayers.


Almighty God, who inspired Your servant Luke the Physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of Your Son: Graciously continue in Your Church the love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of Your Name, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.



Most charming and saintly Physician, you were animated by the heavenly Spirit of love. In faithfully detailing the humanity of Jesus, you also showed his divinity and his genuine compassion for all human beings. Inspire our physicians with your professionalism and with the divine compassion for their patients. Enable them to cure the ills of both body and spirit that afflict so many in our day.  Amen.


St. Luke has always been a very popular saint.  This is partly, perhaps, because we understand him so well.  He is a layman, a European, inheriting the culture of classical Greece.  He is "'one of us."  But still more is it due to his gentle and engaging character.  All his writings are full of human interest, human sympathy, concern for the poor, chivalry towards women; and he was obviously attracted by, and avidly collected for his Gospel, the record of Christ's countless works of mercy.  Indeed, one might almost find fault with him for dimming out the sterner side of our Lord's character and teaching.  But the doctors, whose patron saint he is, have every reason to be proud of him, for surely no physician ever surpassed him in that "love of mankind" which Hippocrates enjoins.  And the rest of us can be grateful to him as well, for it is to him that we owe the parable of the barren fig-tree (13:6), of the prodigal son (15:11) and of the good Samaritan (10:30).  We also owe him the story of the repentant thief and all the five joyful mysteries of the Rosary.  But above all we owe him the Ave Maria, the Magnificat, the Benedictus and the Nunc dimittis with more than half the story of Christmas day; and it is here that his self-effacing modesty most tantalizes us.


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St.  Patrick's Church at Moody Air Force Base