Feastday: October 18
St. Luke, the inspired author of the third Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles, was a native of Antioch in Syria and a physician, and one of the early converts from paganism. He accompanied St. Paul on a considerable part of his missionary journey. He was also his companion while in prison at Rome on two different occasions. His account of these events, contained in the Acts, is firsthand history.
Luke's Gospel is, above all, the Gospel of the Merciful Heart of Jesus. It emphasizes the fact that Christ is the salvation of all men, especially of the repentant sinner and of the lowly. Legend says that Luke painted the Blessed Virgin's portrait. It is certainly true that he painted the most beautiful word-picture of Mary ever written.
St. Luke came from Antioch, was a practicing physician and was one of the first converts to Christianity. He accompanied St. Paul, who converted him, on his missionary journeys and was still with him in Rome when St. Paul was in prison awaiting death. We hear no more of him afterwards and nothing is known of his last years. The Church venerates him as a Martyr.
St. Luke's Gospel is principally concerned with salvation and mercy; in it are preserved some of our Lord's most moving parables, like those of the lost sheep and the prodigal son. Dante calls St. Luke the "historian of the meekness of Christ." It is also St. Luke who tells us the greater part of what we know about our Lord's childhood.
"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 to 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."
Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
St. Luke did not personally know our Lord, and like St. Mark, the author of the second Gospel, he is not included among the apostles. For this reason the Gospel chosen for their feast is the account of the sending forth of the seventy-two disciples. According to St. Jerome, St. Luke died in Achaia (Greece) at the age of 84, and it is unknown whether or not he died a martyr's death. His name means "bringer of light" (= luke).