By Colleen Pressprich
St. Luke, whose feast day is October 18, is one of the four Gospel writers. He is traditionally believed to have written both the Gospel that bears his name as well as the Acts of the Apostles, the book of the Bible that picks up the story of the apostles and the early Church after Jesus ascends to Heaven.
A Little Bit of a Biography
While it's difficult to know many things about early saints for certain, St. Luke is generally believed to have been born sometime between 1 A.D. and 16 A.D., making him a contemporary of Jesus. It’s uncertain if Luke ever met Jesus during His lifetime. We do know that he was not one of the twelve apostles, but he would become a companion of Paul, traveling with him on several journeys.
St. Luke was a doctor and a historian. Some traditions say that he was an artist as well--a man of many and varied talents. He wrote in Greek, not Hebrew, which leads most historians to assume that he was a Gentile (meaning he was not Jewish). DNA tests done on what has traditionally been venerated as his remains indicate that he was of Syrian descent.
Typical Depictions of Luke
In artwork, the four Gospel writers are often symbolized by different animals. St. Luke is usually represented by or painted with an ox. The ox is a symbol of servitude, indicating that Luke is the faithful servant of Jesus. The ox is also a sacrificial animal, which is important as Luke’s Gospel begins with Zachariah offering a sacrifice to the Lord before the conception of John the Baptist.
St. Luke is also often pictured writing.
4 Ways to Celebrate St. Luke’s Feast Day
There are many ways to honor this great saint. Here are four easy ones:
Attend Mass: Attending mass is always a wonderful way to honor the saints. As a bonus, you’ll hear Luke’s Gospel read today!
Read your favorite Bible story from Luke: Take a few moments with your kids and read a story from the Gospel of Luke. As a bonus, ask your kids why they think that story mattered so much to Luke that it was included in his Gospel.
Learn to draw an ox or color a picture of St. Luke: There are many great art tutorials online, including videos. Spend some time learning to draw the symbol of St. Luke. If your kids are smaller, choose a coloring page of an ox or of the saint himself.
Eat Greek food: A simple and easy way to bring the liturgical life into your home is by making a Greek meal (or getting take-out!) today. Since Luke wrote in Greek, Greek food is a natural choice, though you could also honor his heritage by choosing a Syrian meal.
Colleen Pressprich is a homeschooling mom of five and the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, The Women Doctors of the Church, and The Jesse Tree For Families. You can learn more about her, order her books, and read more of her writing at elevatortoheaven.com.