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Saint Luke the Evangelist

On October 18th in the Liturgical Calendar we find the glorious Feast of the Gentile Evangelist.  It is he to whom we owe the account of the Nativity of our Lord which we celebrate as one of the two greatest Solemnities of the Year.  He was the companion and dear friend of Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles:


“Only Luke is with me.” -2 Timothy 4:11

What great love Saint Paul must have had for his companion and co-worker for the salvation of souls.  It is these two men who dwarf all other new testament writers in the volume of their writings and who together have had such an impact on the non-Jewish world for it was initially by their work that those of us not of one of the 12 tribes was brought to the faith.


Here is a beautiful look at the significance of Lukes Gospel:



Mass for the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist

Introitus (Ps 138:17; 1-2)
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principátus eórum. Dómine, probásti me et cognovísti me: tu cognovísti sessiónem meam et resurrectiónem meam. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principátus eórum.

Introitus (Ps 138:17; 1-2)
To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened. O Lord, You have probed me and You know me; You know when I sit and when I stand.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

Intervéniat pro nobis, quaesumus, Dómine, sanctus tuus Lucas Evangélista: qui crucis mortificatiónem iúgiter in suo córpore, pro tui nóminis honóre, portávit. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.  Amen.

Let us pray.
O Lord, we beseech You, that Luke, Your holy Evangelist, who for the honor of Your name bore continually in his body the suffering of the cross, may intercede in our behalf. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Lectio (2 Cor 8:16-24)


Léctio Epístolæ beáti Pauli Apóstoli ad Corínthios.

Fratres: Grátias ago Deo, qui dedit eandem sollicitúdinem pro vobis in corde Titi, quóniam exhortatiónem quidem suscépit: sed cum sollicítior esset, sua voluntáte proféctus est ad vos. Mísimus étiam cum illo fratrem, cuius laus est in Evangélio per omnes ecclésias: non solum autem, sed et ordinátus est ab ecclésiis comes peregrinatioónis nostræ in hanc grátiam, quæ ministrátur a nobis ad Dómini glóriam et destinátam voluntátem nostram: devitántes hoc, ne quis nos vitúperet in hac plenitúdine, quæ ministrátur a nobis. Providémus enim bona non solum coram Deo, sed étiam coram homínibus. Mísimus autem cum illis et fratrem nostrum, quem probávimus in multis sæpe sollícitum esse: nunc autem multo sollicitiórem, confidéntia multa in vos, sive pro Tito, qui est sócius meus, et in vos adiútor, sive fratres nostri, Apóstoli ecclesiárum, glória Christi. Ostensiónem ergo, quæ est caritátis vestræ, et nostræ glóriæ pro vobis, in illos osténdite in fáciem ecclesiárum.
R. Deo gratias

Lesson (2 Cor. 8:16-24)


Lesson from the second letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

Brethren: I give thanks to God, Who has inspired Titus with this same zeal for you. For not only has he accepted our exhortation, but being very zealous himself, he has gone to you of his own choice. And we have sent along with him the brother whose services to the gospel are praised in all the churches; and what is more, who was also appointed by the churches to travel with us in this work of grace which is being done by us, to the glory of the Lord and to show our own readiness. We are on our guard, lest anyone should slander us in the matter of our administration of this generous amount. For we take forethought for what is honorable, not only before God, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them also our brother, whom we have proved to be zealous often and in many things, but who now is more in earnest than ever, because of his great confidence in you, whether as regards Titus, who is my companion and fellow-worker among you, or as regards our brethren, the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. Give them therefore, in the sight of the church, a proof of your charity and of our boasting on your behalf.
R. Thanks be to God.

Graduale  (Ps 18:5; 18:2; Jn 15:16)
In omnem terram exívit sonus eórum: et in fines orbis terræ verba eórum. Coeli enárrant glóriam Dei: et ópera mánuum eius annúntiat firmaméntum. Allelúia, alleluia Ego vos elégi de mundo, ut eátis et fructum afferátis: et fructus vester máneat. Allelúia.

Gradual  (Ps 18:5; 18:2; Jn 15:16)
Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message.  The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Alleluia, alleluia.  I have chosen you out of the world, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain. Alleluia.

Evangelium  (Luke 10:1-9)


Sequéntia ✝ sancti Evangélii secúndum Lucam.
R. Gloria tibi Domine!

In illo témpore: Designávit Dóminus et álios septuagínta duos: et misit illos binos ante faciem suam in omnem civitátem et locum, quo erat ipse ventúrus. Et dicebat illis: Messis quidem multa, operárii autem pauci. Rogáte ergo Dóminum messis, ut mittat operários in messem suam. Ite: ecce, ego mitto vos sicut agnos inter lupos. Nolite portáre saeculum neque peram neque calceaménta; et néminem per viam salutavéritis. In quamcúmque domum intravéritis, primum dícite: Pax huic dómui: et si ibi fúerit fílius pacis, requiéscet super illum pax vestra: sin autem, ad vos revertétur. In eádem autem domo manéte, edentes et bibéntes quæ apud illos sunt: dignus est enim operárius mercéde sua. Nolíte transíre de domo in domum. Et in quamcúmque civitátem intravéritis, et suscéperint vos, manducáte quæ apponúntur vobis: et curáte infírmos, qui in illa sunt, et dícite illis: Appropinquávit in vos regnum Dei.
R. Laus tibi, Christe!
S. Per Evangelica dicta, deleantur nostra delicta.

Gospel (Luke 10:1-9)


Continuation ☩ of the Holy Gospel according to Luke
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them forth two by two before Him into every town and place where He Himself was about to come. And He said to them, The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. Go. Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry neither purse, nor wallet, nor sandals, and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a son of peace be there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they have; for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. And whatever town you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you, and cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
S. By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out.

Offertorium (Ps 138:17)
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principátus eórum.

Offertorium  (Ps 138:17)
To me, your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

Donis coeléstibus da nobis, quaesumus, Dómine, líbera tibi mente servíre: ut múnera quæ deférimus, interveniénte beáto Evangelísta tuo Luca, et medélam nobis operéntur et glóriam. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.  Amen.

By Your heavenly gifts, grant us, O Lord, we pray, to serve You with a free mind, so that the offerings we present, may, by the intercession of blessed Luke, Your Evangelist, lead us to heavenly glory. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Communio  (Matth 19:28)
Vos, qui secúti estis me, sedébitis super sedes, iudicántes duódecim tribus Israël.

Communio  (Matt 19:28)
You who have followed Me shall sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Præsta, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, quod de sancto altári tuo accépimus, précibus beáti Evangelístæ tui Lucæ, sanctíficet ánimas nostras, per quod tuti esse póssimus. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.  Amen.

Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that what we have received from Your holy altar may, by the prayers of Your blessed Evangelist, Luke, make our souls holy and thus keep us safe. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



The Liturgical Year


Dom Prosper Gueranger


October 18


Saint Luke the Evangelist


The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men.(Tit. 2:11; 3:3) It would seem that the third Evangelist, a disciple of St. Paul, had purposed setting forth this word of the Doctor of the Gentiles; or may we not rather say, the Apostle himself characterizes in this sentence the Gospel wherein his disciple portrays the Saviour prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of…Israel. (Lk. 2:31-32) St. Luke’s Gospel, and the words quoted from St. Paul, were in fact written about the same time; and it is impossible to say which claims priority.


Under the eye of Simon Peter, to whom the Father had revealed the Christ the Son of the living God, Mark had the honour of giving to the Church the Gospel of Jesus, the Son of God. (Mk. 1:1) Matthew had already drawn up for the Jews the Gospel of the Messias, Son of David, Son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1) Afterwards, at the side of Paul, Luke wrote for the Gentiles the Gospel of Jesus, Son of Adam through Mary. (Lk. 3:38) As far as the genealogy of this First-born of his Mother may be reckoned back, so far shall extend the blessing he bestows upon his brethren, by redeeming them from the curse inherited from their first father.


Jesus was truly one of ourselves, a Man conversing with men and living their life. He was seen on earth in the reign of Augustus; the prefect of the empire registered the birth of this new subject of Caesar in the city of his ancestors. He was bound in the swathing-bands of infancy; like all of his race, he was circumcised, offered to the Lord, and redeemed according to the law of his nation. As a Child he obeyed his parents; he grew up under their eyes; he passed through the progressive development of youth to the maturity of manhood. At every juncture, during his public life, he prostrated in prayer to God the Creator of all; he wept over his country; when his Heart was wrung with anguish at sight of the morrow’s deadly torments, he was bathed with a sweat of blood; and in that agony he did not disdain the assistance of an Angel. Such appears, in the third Gospel, the humanity of God our Saviour.


How sweet too are his grace and goodness! Among all the children of men, he merited to be the expectation of nations and the Desired of them all: he who was conceived of a humble Virgin; who was born in a stable with shepherds for his court, and choirs of Angels singing in the darkness of night: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill. But earth had sung the prelude to the angelio harmonies; the precursor, leaping with delight in his mother’s womb, had, as the Church says, (Vesper Hymn for the Feast of St. John Baptist) made known the king still resting in his bride-chamber. To this joy of the bridegroom’s Friend, the Virgin Mother had responded by the sweetest song that earth or heaven has ever heard. Then Zachary and Simeon completed the number of inspired Canticles for the new people of God. All was song around the new-born Babe; and Mary kept all the words in her heart, in order to transmit them to us through her own Evangelist.


The Divine Child grew in age and wisdom and grace, before God and man; till his human beauty captivated men, and drew them with the cords of Adam to the love of God. He was ready to welcome the daughter of Tyre, the Gentile race that had become more than a rival of Sion. Let her not fear, the poor unfortunate one, of whom Magdalene was a figure; the pride of expiring Judaism may take scandal, but Jesus will accept her tears and her perfumes; he will forgive her much because of her great love. Let the prodigal hope once more, when, worn out with his long wanderings, in every way whither error has led the nations; the envious complaint of his elder brother Israel will not stay the outpourings of the Sacred Heart, celebrating the return of the fugitive, restoring to him the dignity of sonship, placing again upon his finger the ring of the alliance first contracted in Eden with the whole human race. As for Judas, unhappy is he if he refuse to understand.


Woe to the rich man, who in his opulence neglects the poor Lazarus! The privileges of race no longer exist: of ten lepers cured in body, the stranger alone is healed in soul, because he alone believes in his deliverer and returns thanks. Of the Samaritan, the levite, and the priest, who appear on the road to Jericho, the first alone earns our Saviour’s commendation. The pharisee is strangely mistaken, when, in his arrogant prayer, he spurns the publican, who strikes his breast and cries for mercy. The Son of Man neither hears the prayers of the proud, nor heeds their indignation; he invites himself, in spite of their murmurs, to the house of Zacheus, bringing with him salvation and joy, and declaring the publican to be henceforth a true son of Abraham. So much goodness and such universal mercy close against him the narrow hearts of his fellow-citizens; they will not have him to reign over them; but eternal Wisdom finds the lost groat, and there is great joy before the Angels in heaven. On the day of the sacred Nuptials, the lowly and despised, and the repentant sinners, will sit down to the banquet prepared for others. In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, . . . and to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. (Lk. 4:25-27)


O Jesus, thy Evangelist has won our hearts. We love thee for having taken pity on our misery. We Gentiles were in deeper debt than Jerusalem, and therefore we owe thee greater love in return for thy pardon. We love thee because thy choicest graces are for Magdalene, that is, for us who are sinners, and are nevertheless called to the better part. We love thee because thou canst not resist the tears of mothers; but restored to them, as at Nairn, their dead children. In the day of treason, and abandonment, and denial, thou didst forget thine own injury to cast upon Peter that loving look, which caused him to weep bitterly. Thou turnedst away from thyself the tears of those humble and true daughters of Jerusalem, who followed thy painful footsteps up the heights of Calvary. Nailed to the Cross, thou didst implore pardon for thy executioners. At the last hour, as God thou promisedst Paradise to the penitent thief, as Man thou gavest back thy soul to thy Father. Truly from beginning to end of this third Gospel appears thy goodness and kindness, O God our Saviour!


St. Luke completed his work by writing, in the same correct style as his Gospel, the history of the first days of Christianity, of the introduction of the Gentiles into the Church, and of the great labours of their own Apostle Paul. According to tradition he was an artist, as well as a man of letters; and with a soul alive to all the most delicate inspirations, he consecrated his pencil to the holiest use, and handed down to us the features of the Mother of God. It was an illustration worthy of the Gospel which relates the Divine Infancy; and it won for the artist a new title to the gratitude of those who never saw Jesus and Mary in the flesh. Hence St. Luke is the patron of Christian art; and also of the medical profession, for in the holy Scripture itself he is said to have been a physician, as we shall see from the Breviary Lessons. He had studied all the sciences in his native city Antioch; and the brilliant capital of the East had reason to be proud of its illustrious son.


The Church borrows from St. Jerome the historical Lessons of the Feast. The just censure therein passed upon a certain apocryphal and romantic history of St. Thecla, in no way derogates from the universal veneration of East and West for the noble spiritual daughter of St. Paul.


From the Book on Ecclesiastical Writers, written by St Jerome, Priest at Bethlehem.


Chapter 7


Luke was a physician of Antioch, who, as appeareth from his writings, knew the Greek language. He was a follower of the Apostle Paul, and his fellow traveler in all his wanderings. He wrote a Gospel, whereof the same Paul saith: We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches (2 Cor. 8:18) Of him, he writeth unto the Colossians (4:14): Luke, the beloved physician, greeteth you. And again, unto Timothy, (II 4:11): Only Luke is with me. He also published another excellent book entitled: The Acts of the Apostles, wherein the history is brought down to Paul’s two-year sojourn at Rome, that is to say, until the fourth year of Nero, from which we gather that it was at Rome that the said book was composed.


The silence of Luke is one of the reasons why we reckon among Apocryphal books The Acts of Paul and Thekla, and the whole story about the baptism of Leo. For why should the fellow traveler of the Apostle, who knew other things, be ignorant only of this? At the same time there is against these documents the statement of Tertullian, almost a contemporary writer, that the Apostle John convicted a certain Priest in Asia, who was a great admirer of the Apostle Paul, of having written them, and that the said Priest owned that he had been induced to compose them through his admiration for Paul, and that he was deposed in consequence. There are some persons who suspect that when Paul in his Epistles useth the phrase, According to my Gospel (Rom. 2:16, Tim. 2:8), he meaneth the Gospel written by Luke.


However, Luke learned his Gospel not from the Apostle Paul only, who had not companied with the Lord in the flesh, but also from other Apostles, as he himself declareth at the beginning of his work, where he saith They delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye – witnesses and ministers of the word (1:2). According to what he had heard, therefore, did he write his Gospel. As to the Acts of the Apostles, he composed them from his own personal knowledge. He was never married. He lived eightyfour years. He is buried at Constantinople, whither his bones were brought from Achaia in the twentieth year of Constantine, together with the reliques of the Apostle Andrew.


The symbolical Ox, reminding us of the figurative sacrifices, and announcing their abrogation, yokes himself, with the Man, the Lion, and the Eagle, to the chariot which bears the Conqueror of earth, the Lamb in his triumph. O Evangelist of the Gentiles, blessed be thou for having put an end to the long night of our captivity, and warmed our frozen hearts. Thou wast the confidant of the Mother of God; and her happy influence left in thy soul that fragrance of virginity which pervaded thy whole life and breathes through thy writings. With discerning love and silent devotedness, thou didst assist the Apostle of the Gentiles in his great work; and didst remain as faithful to him when abandoned or betrayed, shipwrecked or imprisoned, as in the days of his prosperity. Rightly, then, does the Church in her Collect apply to thee the words spoken by St. Paul of himself: In all things we suffer tribulation, are persecuted, are cast down, always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus; but this continual dying manifests the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. Thy inspired pen taught us to love the Son of Man in his Gospel; thy pencil portrayed him for us in his Mother’s arms; and a third time thou revealed him to the world, by the reproduction of his holiness in thine own life.


Preserve in us the fruits of thy manifold teaching. Though Christian painters do well to pay thee special honour, and to learn from thee, that the ideal of beauty resides in the Son of God and in his Mother, there is yet a more sublime art than that of lines and colours: the art of reproducing in ourselves the likeness of God. This we wish to learn perfectly in thy school; for we know from thy master St. Paul that conformity to the image of the Son of God can alone entitle the elect to predestination.


Be thou the protector of the faithful physicians, who strive to walk in thy footsteps, and who, in their ministry of devotedness and charity, rely upon thy credit with the Author of life. Second their efforts to heal or to relieve suffering; and inspire them with holy zeal, when they find their patients on the brink of eternity.


The world itself, in its decrepitude, now needs the assistance of all who are able, by prayer or action, to come to its rescue. The Son of Man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth? (Lk. 18:8) Thus spoke our Lord in the Gospel. But he also said that we ought always to pray and not to faint; (Ibid, 1) adding, for the instruction of the Church both at this time and always, the parable of the widow, whose importunity prevailed upon the unjust judge to defend her cause. And will not God revenge his elect, who cry to him day and night; and will he have patience in their regard? I say to you that he will quickly revenge them. (Ibid, 2-3)


And for another take on Saint Luke:


Butlers Lives of the Saints

Rev. Fr. Alban Butler


October 18


St. Luke the Evangelist


The Great apostle of the Gentiles, or rather the Holy Ghost by his pen, is the panegyrist of this glorious evangelist, and his own inspired writings are the highest, standing, and most authentic commendation of his sanctity, and of those eminent graces which are a just subject of our admiration, but which human praises can only extenuate. St. Luke was a native of Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, a city famous for the agreeableness of its situation, the riches of its traffic, its extent, the number of its inhabitants, the politeness of their manners, and their learning and wisdom. Its schools were the most renowned in all Asia, and produced the ablest masters in all arts and sciences. St. Luke acquired a stock of learning in his younger years, which, we are told, he improved by his travels in some parts of Greece and Egypt. He became particularly well skilled in physic, which he made his profession. They who from hence infer the quality of his birth and fortune, do not take notice that this art was at that time often managed by slaves who were trained up to it, as Grotius proves, who conceives that St. Luke perhaps had lived servant in some noble family in quality of physician, till he obtained his freedom; after which he continued to follow his profession. This he seems to have done after his conversion to the faith, and even to the end of his life; the occasional practice of physic without being drawn aside by it from spiritual functions, being a charity very consistent with the ministry of the gospel. St. Jerome assures us he was very eminent in his profession, and St. Paul, by calling him his most dear physician, 1 seems to indicate that he had not laid it aside. Besides his abilities in physic, he is said to have been very skilful in painting. The Menology of the emperor Basil, compiled in 980, Nicephorus, 2 Metaphrastes, and other modern Greeks quoted by F. Gretzer, in his dissertation on this subject, speak much of his excelling in this art, and of his leaving many pictures of Christ and the B. Virgin. Though neither the antiquity nor the credit of these authors is of great weight, it must be acknowledged, with a very judicious critic, that some curious anecdotes are found in their writings. In this particular, what they tell us is supported by the authority of Theodorus Lector, who lived in 518, and relates 3 that a picture of the B. Virgin painted by St. Luke was sent from Jerusalem to the empress Pulcheria, who placed it in the church of Hodegorum which she built in her honour at Constantinople. Moreover, a very ancient inscription was found in a vault near the church of St. Mary in viâ latâ in Rome, in which it is said of a picture of the B. Virgin Mary, discovered there, “One of the seven painted by St. Luke.” 4 Three or four such pictures are still in being; the principal is that placed by Paul V. in the Burghesian chapel in St. Mary Major.


St. Luke was a proselyte to the Christian religion, but whether from Paganism or rather from Judaism is uncertain; for many Jews were settled at Antioch, but chiefly such as were called Hellenists, who read the Bible in the Greek translation of the Septuagint. St. Jerom observes from his writings, that he was more skilled in Greek than in Hebrew, and that therefore he not only always makes use of the Septuagint translation, as the other authors of the New Testament who wrote in Greek do, but he refrains sometimes from translating words when the propriety of the Greek tongue would not bear it. Some think he was converted to the faith by St. Paul at Antioch: others judge this improbable, because that apostle no where calls him his son, as he frequently does his converts. St. Epiphanius makes him to have been a disciple of our Lord; which might be for some short time before the death of Christ, though this evangelist says, he wrote his gospel from the relations of those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. 5 Nevertheless, from these words, many conclude that he became a Christian at Antioch only after Christ’s ascension. Tertullian positively affirms that he never was a disciple of Christ whilst he lived on earth. 6 No sooner was he enlightened by the Holy Ghost, and initiated in the school of Christ, but he set himself heartily to learn the spirit of his faith, and to practise its lessons. For this purpose he studied perfectly to die to himself, and, as the Church says of him, “He always carried about in his body the mortification of the cross for the honour of the divine name.” He was already a great proficient in the habits of a perfect mastery of himself, and of all virtues, when he became St. Paul’s companion in his travels, and fellow-labourer in the ministry of the gospel. The first time that in his history of the missions of St. Paul 7 he speaks in his own name in the first person, is when that apostle sailed from Troas into Macedon, in the year 51, soon after St. Barnabas had left him, and St. Irenæus begins from that time the voyages which St. Luke made with St. Paul. 8 Before this he had doubtless been for some time an assiduous disciple of that great apostle; but from this time he seems never to have left him unless by his order upon commissions for the service of the churches he had planted. It was the height of his ambition to share with that great apostle all his toils, fatigues, dangers, and sufferings. In his company he made some stay at Philippi in Macedon; then he travelled with him through all the cities of Greece, where the harvest every day grew upon their hands. St. Paul mentions him more than once as the companion of his travels; he calls him Luke the beloved physician, 9 his fellow-labourer. 10 Interpreters usually take Lucius, whom St. Paul calls his kinsman, 11 to be St. Luke, as the same apostle sometimes gives a latin termination to Silas, calling him Sylvanus. Many with Origen, Eusebius, and St. Jerom say, that when St. Paul speaks of his own gospel, 12 he means that of St. Luke, though the passage may be understood simply of the gospel which St. Paul preached. He wrote this epistle in the year 57, four years before his first arrival at Rome.     


St. Matthew and St. Mark had written their gospels before St. Luke. The devil, who always endeavours to obscure the truth by falsehood, stirred up several to obtrude upon the world fabulous relations concerning Christ, to obviate which St. Luke published his gospel. In this undertaking some imagine he had also in view to supply some things which had been omitted by the two former; but it does not clearly appear that he had read them, as Calmet and others observe. Tertullian tells us, that this work of the disciple was often ascribed to St. Paul, who was his master. 13 That apostle, doubtless, assisted him in the task, and approved and recommended it; but St. Luke mentions others from whom he derived his accounts, who from the beginning had been eye-witnesses of Christ’s actions. He delivered nothing but what he received immediately from persons present at, and concerned in the things which he has left upon record, having a most authentic stock of credit and intelligence to proceed upon, as Tertullian speaks, and being under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost, from whose express revelation he received whatever he has delivered concerning all divine mysteries, and without whose special assistance and inspiration he wrote not the least tittle, even in his historical narrative. What the ancients aver of the concurrence of St. Paul in this work, seems to appear in the conformity of their expressions in mentioning the institution of the blessed eucharist, 14 also in relating the apparition of Christ to St. Peter. 15 St. Jerom and St. Gregory Nazianzen tell us, 16 that St. Luke wrote his gospel in Achaia when he attended St. Paul preaching there and in the confines of Bœotia. He was twice in these parts with that apostle, in 53 and 58. He must have wrote his gospel in 53, if St. Paul speaks of it in his epistle to the Romans, as the ancients assure us. Those titles in some Greek manuscripts, which say this gospel was written at Rome during St. Paul’s first imprisonment, are modern, and seem to confound this book with the Acts of the Apostles.    


St. Luke mainly insists in his gospel upon what relates to Christ’s priestly office; for which reason the ancients, in accommodating the four symbolical representations, mentioned in Ezechiel, to the four evangelists, assigned the ox or calf, as an emblem of sacrifices, to St. Luke. It is only in the gospel of St. Luke that we have a full account of several particulars relating to the Annunciation of the mystery of the Incarnation to the Blessed Virgin, her visit to St. Elizabeth, the parable of the prodigal son, and many other most remarkable points. The whole is written with great variety, elegance, and perspicuity. An incomparable sublimity of thought and diction is accompanied with that genuine simplicity which is the characteristic of the sacred penman; and by which the divine actions and doctrine of our Blessed Redeemer are set off in a manner which in every word conveys his holy spirit, and unfolds in every tittle the hidden mysteries and inexhausted riches of the divine love and of all virtues to those who with an humble and teachable disposition of mind make these sacred oracles the subject of their assiduous devout meditation. The dignity with which the most sublime mysteries, which transcend all the power of words, and even the conception and comprehension of all created beings, are set off without any pomp of expression, has in it something divine; and the energy with which the patience, meekness, charity, and beneficence of a God made man for us, are described, his divine lessons laid down, and the narrative of his life given, but especially the dispassionate manner in which his adorable sufferings and death are related, without the least exclamation or bestowing the least harsh epithet on his enemies, is a grander and more noble eloquence on such a theme, and a more affecting and tender manner of writing than the highest strains or the finest ornaments of speech could be. This simplicity makes the great actions speak themselves, which all borrowed eloquence must extenuate. The sacred penmen in these writings were only the instruments or organs of the Holy Ghost; but their style alone suffices to evince how perfectly free their souls were from the reign or influence of human passions, and in how perfect a degree they were replenished with all those divine virtues and that heavenly spirit which their words breathe. 


About the year 56 St. Paul sent St. Luke with St. Titus to Corinth, with this high commendation, that his praise in the gospel resounded throughout all the churches. 17 St. Luke attended him to Rome, whither he was sent prisoner from Jerusalem in 61. The apostle remained there two years in chains: but was permitted to live in a house which he hired, though under the custody of a constant guard; and there he preached to those who daily resorted to hear him. From ancient writings and monuments belonging to the church of St. Mary in viâ latâ, which is an ancient title of a cardinal deacon, Baronius 18 and Aringhi 19 tell us, that this church was built upon the spot where St. Paul then lodged, and where St. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. On this account Sixtus V. caused a statue of St. Paul to be placed, with a new inscription, upon the famous pillar of Antoninus, in that neighbourhood. St. Luke was the apostle’s faithful assistant and attendant during his confinement, and had the comfort to see him set at liberty in 63, the year in which this evangelist finished his Acts of the Apostles. This sacred history he compiled at Rome, 20 by divine inspiration, as an appendix to his gospel, to prevent the false relations of those transactions which some published, and to leave an authentic account of the wonderful works of God in planting his church, and some of the miracles by which he confirmed it, and which were an invincible proof of the truth of Christ’s resurrection, and of his holy religion. Having in the first twelve chapters related the chief general transactions of the principal apostles in the first establishment of the church, beginning at our Lord’s ascension, he from the thirteenth chapter, almost confines himself to the actions and miracles of St. Paul, to most of which he had been privy and an eye-witness, and concerning which false reports were spread. St. Luke dedicated both this book and his gospel to one Theophilus, who, by the title of Most Excellent, which he gives him, according to the style of those times, must have been a person of the first distinction, and a public magistrate, probably of Antioch, who perhaps was a convert of this evangelist. These books were not intended only for his use, but also for the instruction of all churches, and all succeeding ages. As amongst the ancient prophets the style of Isaias was most elegant and polite, and that of Amos, who had been a shepherd, rough; so that of St. Luke, by its accuracy and elegance, and the purity of the Greek language, shows the politeness of his education at Antioch: yet it is not wholly free from Hebraisms and Syriacisms. It flows with an easy and natural grace and sweetness, and is admirably accommodated to an historical design.


St. Luke did not forsake his master after he was released from his confinement. That apostle in his last imprisonment at Rome writes, that the rest had all left him, and that St. Luke alone was with him. 21 St. Epiphanius says, 22 that after the martyrdom of St. Paul, St. Luke preached in Italy, Gaul, Dalmatia, and Macedon. By Gaul some understand Cisalpine Gaul, others Galatia. Fortunatus and Metaphrastes say he passed into Egypt, and preached in Thebais. Nicephorus says he died at Thebes in Bœotia, and that his tomb was shown near that place in his time; but seems to confound the evangelist with St. Luke Stiriote, a hermit of that country. St. Hippolytus says, 23 St. Luke was crucified at Elæa in Peloponnesus near Achaia. The modern Greeks tell us, he was crucified on an olive tree. The ancient African Martyrology of the fifth age 24 gives him the title of evangelist and martyr. St. Gregory Nazianzen, 25 St. Paulinus, 26 and St. Gaudentius of Brescia, 27 assure us that he went to God by martyrdom. Bede, Ado, Usuard, and Baronius in the Martyrologies only say he suffered much for the faith, and died very old in Bithynia. That he crossed the straits to preach in Bithynia is most probable, but then he returned and finished his course in Achaia; under which name Peloponnesus was then comprised. The modern Greeks say he lived four score and four years: which assertion had crept into St. Jerom’s account of St. Luke, 28 but is expunged by Martianay, who found those words wanting in all old manuscripts. The bones of St. Luke were translated from Patras in Achaia in 357, by order of the emperor Constantius, and deposited in the church of the apostles at Constantinople, 29 together with those of St. Andrew and St. Timothy. On the occasion of this translation some distribution was made of the relics of St. Luke: St. Gaudentius procured a part for his church at Brescia. 30 St. Paulinus possessed a portion in St. Felix’s church at Nola, and with a part enriched a church which he built at Fondi. 31 The magnificent church of the apostles at Constantinople was built by Constantine the Great, 32 whose body was deposited in the porch in a chest of gold, the twelve apostles standing round his tomb. 33 When this church was repaired by an order of Justinian, the masons found three wooden chests, or coffins, in which, as the inscriptions proved, the bodies of St. Luke, St. Andrew, and St. Timothy were interred. 34 Baronius mentions that the head of St. Luke was brought by St. Gregory from Constantinople to Rome, and laid in the church of his monastery of St. Andrew. 35 The ancient picture of St. Luke, together with all the instruments used formerly in writing, is copied by Montfaucon from old manuscript books of his gospel. 36 Some of his relics are kept in the great Grecian monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. 37


Christ, our divine Legislator, came not only to be our Model by his example, and our Redeemer by the sacrifice of his adorable blood, but also to be our doctor and teacher by his heavenly doctrine. He who, from the beginning of the world, had inspired and opened the mouths of so many prophets, vouchsafed to become himself our instructor, teaching us what we are to believe, and what we are to do, that through his redemption we may escape eternal torments and attain to everlasting life. With what earnestness and diligence, with what awful respect ought we to listen to, and assiduously meditate upon his divine lessons, which we read in his gospels, or hear from the mouths of his ministers, who announce to us his word, and in his name, or by his authority and commission! As by often iterating the same action the nail is driven into the wood, and not a stroke of the hammer is lost or superfluous; so it is by repeated meditation, that the divine word sinks deep into our hearts. What fatigues and sufferings did it cost the Son of God to announce it to us! How many prophets! how many apostles, evangelists, and holy ministers has he sent to preach the same for the sake of our souls! How intolerable is our contempt of it! our sloth and carelessness in receiving it!


Note 1. Coloss. i. 14.

Note 2. L. 2, c. 43.

Note 3. L. 1, pp. 551, 552.

Note 4. Una ex vii. a Lucá depictis. Bosius et Aringhi, Roma Subterran. l. 3, c. 41. On St. Luke’s pictures of the B. Virgin, see Jos. Assemani in Calend. Univers. ad 18, Oct. t. 5, p. 306.

Note 5. Luke i. 2.

Note 6. L. 4, contr. Marcion, c. 2.

Note 7. Acts xvi. 8–10.

Note 8. St. Iren. 3, c. 14.

Note 9. Col. iv. 14.

Note 10. Philem. v. 24.

Note 11. Rom. xvi. 21.

Note 12. Rom. ii. 16.

Note 13. L. 4. contra Marcion, c. 5.

Note 14. Luke xvii. 17–20, and 1 Cor. xi. 23–25.

Note 15. Luke xxiv. 34, and 1 Cor. xv. 5.

Note 16. St. Hieron. Proleg. in Matt. et. S. Greg. Naz. Carm. 33.

Note 17. 2 Cor. viii. 18, 19.

Note 18. Baron. in Annal. t. 1, ad an. 55, ed. nov. Luccens.

Note 19. Roma Subterr. l. 3, c. 41, Lorinus in Acta Apost.

Note 20. St. Hieron. Catal. Vir. Illustr. c. 7.

Note 21. 2 Tim. iv. 11.

Note 22. St. Epiph. hær. 51.

Note 23. St. Hippolytus in MS. Bodleianæ Bibl. ap. Milles in Præf. in Luc. p. 120.

Note 24. Mabil. Ann. t. 3, p. 414.

Note 25. Naz. or. 3.

Note 26. Paulin. ep. 12, p. 155.

Note 27. S. Gaud. Serm. 17.

Note 28. De Vir. Illustr. c. 7.

Note 29. St. Hieron. Ib. Philostorg. Idat. in Chron. Theodor Lector, p. 567.

Note 30. Serm. 17.

Note 31. S. Paulin. ep. 24 et 12.

Note 32. Eus. Vit. Constant. l. 4, c. 58.

Note 33. Socrates, Hist. Eccl.

Note 34. See Procop. de Ædif. Justiniani; also Mr. Ball, On the Antiquities of Constantinople, App. to Gyllius, p. 45.

Note 35. Baron. ad an. 586, n. 25.

Note 36. Palæographia Græca, l. 1, pp. 22, 23.

Note 37. Ib. l. 7, p. 456.


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