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St. Luke The Apostle and Doctor, Patron Saint of Physicians and Painters



St. Luke the Evangelist is the patron saint of doctors and painters. He is the human author of the Gospel according to St. Luke. A convert to Christianity, Luke was trained as a physician. He was a close friend of St. Paul and, to a lesser degree, St. Peter. Luke and Paul most likely traveled much together. It is believed that Luke painted the first religious icon. Luke was martyred for his faith, though the 'how' is disputed. Saint Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.


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St. Luke was born to a pagan family in Antioch, in Syria, in the First Century AD. The name Luke is probably derived from Lucanus, a Greek name. He converted to Christianity at an early age. It is believed that he was converted by St. Paul. Traditionally, it is believed that Luke trained as a physician, and he is regarded as the patron saint of doctors.

Luke was very close to St. Paul. Paul referred to Luke as his dear friend in one of his epistles. Paul travelled widely and spread the Good News. It seems that Luke accompanied him on many of these travels, and acted as Paul’s personal physician. It is widely believed that St. Luke accompanied St. Paul on his journey and stayed with him in Rome as he awaited his execution. He also was the companion of St. Peter, for a period of time.

Luke is also believed to have been a painter, and is widely believed to have painted religious pictures. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, it is believed that Luke painted the first icon. Several extant icons are believed to have been painted by St. Luke.

After the death of Sts. Paul and Peter, Luke stayed in Rome and converted many pagans.

There are several accounts of Luke’s death. According to one well-known account, St. Luke was martyred in Rome by Nero. He was arrested after being falsely denounced as a magician. Before he was executed, Nero had the saint’s hand chopped off, but Luke calmly re-attached his hand to his arm. Several people were instantly converted. Nero had Luke and these new converts all beheaded. Luke’s remains were placed in a sack and cast into the sea. The remains were miraculously revealed to a disciple of Luke, who had them taken to Greece.

According to sources, Luke's tomb was located in Thebes. His relics were transferred from there to Constantinople in the year 357. There were very many miracles attributed to the relics of St Luke.

The early church fathers believed Luke was the writer of both the Gospel according to Luke and the book of Acts of the Apostles, which originally formed a single work known to scholars as Luke–Acts. Jerome and Eusebius confirmed Luke as the author of these writings. The Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke are key works in the history of Christianity.

St. Luke was a key transmitter of the Word of God, and his words inspire and guide Christians today.

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