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Saint Luke: Dear and Glorious Physician
By Lee Kopulos

St. Luke the Evangelist has had a profound and lasting impact on my life. In my early years in the Orthodox Faith intercessory prayer came to me as the right thing to do so I began praying to my favorite saint, Saint Anthony. It was a very good experience and still is. However, suddenly one year St. Luke came into my life.

Just after my wonderful wife, Linda, and I researched the name for our third child (a boy), we concluded that Luke should be his name. The reasons were good ones. St. Luke was an all-purpose man of the Christian faith-physician, author, artist and companion of St. Paul-someone a child could be proud of and try to emulate.

We approached our priest at the time, Fr. George Zervos, to tell him our good news. Surprisingly, he exclaimed, "I just got off the phone with our Chancellor Fr. Isaiah, and he told me that the new Church baptistery is being named in honor of St. Luke!" Linda and I exclaimed, "Wow, that's the name we chose for our new baby." Fr. George replied, "It is surely the will of God that he should be so named. Your son will be the first baby to be baptized after the blessing and naming of the baptistery." And so it was. St. Luke came into our lives with a bang!

Another event confirmed the special love and intercessory relationship my family and I have with St. Luke. In late 1983, 17 Orthodox Christians began meeting with His Grace, Bishop Boris (of blessed memory) for the purpose of starting a new mission parish in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago. After several meetings, His Grace gave his blessing for us to begin and stated that at the next meeting he would name the mission. Everyone was excited and offered many good names for him to consider. The night before the meeting I was given the name in a dream-St. Luke. Driving to the meeting, I wondered: did I get that dream right? Being unsure, I told no one about my dream. Yet, sure enough, Bishop Boris named the mission "St. Luke the Evangelist." God always surprises us with His goodness!

Sixteen years later I was talking with Lana Kokayeff after Liturgy about my "friendship-in-prayer" with St. Luke. I mentioned to her that over the years I hadn't been able to find much information about him, so maybe there wasn't very much. To my surprise Lana exclaimed, "Oh no, Lee, there is a wonderful book on him that I really enjoyed, entitled Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell. You have to read it!" Lana even brought it to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dear and Glorious Physician (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959). Interestingly, the author's preface somewhat parallels my own experience. Taylor Caldwell, author of 19 books, explained that the book was 46 years in the making.

Mrs. Caldwell first became aware of St. Luke early in her childhood. When she was twelve years old, Mrs. Caldwell found a large book that was written by a nun who lived in Antioch. This book contained legends and other information about St. Luke. She also learned that St. Luke, a truly gifted physician, performed many miracles before his conversion to Christ. Mrs. Caldwell began writing Dear and Glorious Physician after she discovered this information. She rewrote the story when she was 22 years old and again at age 26. Later, in1954, she visited the Holy Land with her husband to collect more specific information regarding the biblical sequence of events in St. Luke's life. Then she wrote the book's final version.

St. Luke was born in Antioch, Syria, of Greek (slave) parents, Aeneas and Iris. He was raised in a servant family of the Roman tribune, Diodorus, who was a warm and loving person. Diodorus observed the unique brilliance of the young Luke and assigned to him a teacher of physicians, one Keptah. After a few weeks of study Keptah told Luke, "God has a great destiny for you." Luke fought against this foresight by questioning man's immortality. He asked, "Why are we born?" At the same time, he admired the Greek devotion to the unknown God. He struggled to believe in the Person of the one God of the Jews and continually searched for the truth about Him. At the same time, Luke devoted his life to chastity and to healing the poor and oppressed, the despised and rejected.

After studying with Keptah, Luke was assigned to Cusa, a slave, to be educated in the Greek language, history, philosophy, and poetry. While Cusa was jealous of Luke's brilliance he once remarked, "I believe him touched by divinity! [That] he is protégé of Chiron there is no doubt." (Chiron was the famous Greek mythological character that was the wisest of all the centaurs and famous for his knowledge of medicine. He taught both Achilles and Hercules). Not surprisingly, the tall, blond, blue-eyed Luke later went to Alexandria, Egypt, to study medicine at the famous medical school there.

After Diodorus died, Luke became the administrator of Diodorus' estate and inheritor of his wealth. Luke then went to Rome where he was appointed by Tiberius Caesar to be Chief Medical Officer. Politely, Luke refused the appointment in a face-to-face meeting with Caesar, something unheard of in those days. Luke told Caesar that he wanted to care for the sick and suffering poor in cities along the Mediterranean Sea, otherwise, life would have no meaning for him. Tiberius was aghast and queried, "Must life have meaning? Even the gods have not given man a meaning [for] his existence." Luke replied, "Yes, sire, but we can assign some meaning to our lives ourselves." Caesar continued to question Luke. "Are you dedicated to some obscure god who has not yet made his debut in Rome?" Luke sat in silence and then said, "I believe in God…He who made us what we are." Subsequently, Luke began his long journey to find this God.

St. Luke was the only Apostle that was not a Jew. He never saw Christ but did have a revelation about Him. St. Luke's first visit to Israel came one year after the crucifixion of Christ. The slave, Kames, whom Luke freed, was instrumental in leading Luke to Christ. Antonius, a Roman centurion, who lived in Capernaum for many years and witnessed Jesus' miracles, also played a role in Luke's search. Antonius was thoroughly familiar with Jewish traditions and beliefs. "This man is the Messiah," Antonius declared. "He is God. He is the unknown God of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians. Multitudes of Jews now believe it. How do I know? Man knows through his heart." In time, and in keeping with St. Paul, Luke developed the belief that Christ came not only to Jews but also to the Greeks and other Gentiles.

Later in his life, St. Luke wrote both the Gospel bearing his name and the book of Acts. He compiled these books using the stories he had heard about Jesus, as well as the personal witness of the Holy Mother of God, the Apostles, and disciples. Only to Luke did the Holy Mother reveal "The Magnificat" (Luke 1:46-55), which, I believe, contains the noblest words of all literature.

Dear and Glorious Physician is a story for anyone who wants to know about St. Luke and who yearns to love our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a journey of despair and darkness, suffering and anguish, bitterness and sorrow, and rebellion and hopelessness until The Christ is found. It is the story of St. Luke's confirmation of his belief in God the Savior. It is the realization that life is futile without God no matter what your station or status. Taylor Caldwell's narrative is very descriptive and compelling, especially because of this well-researched book's novel-like construction. Since Dear and Glorious Physician is about our Patron Saint, it is a must read. Once you learn about St. Luke, you will hopefully become more aware of his Troparion when it is sung during the Divine Liturgy and at other times. Perhaps, as mine does, your heart will then warm, your spine will tingle, and your soul will confirm your faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

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