Dusty Feasts

Official feasts used to be an important part of the human community. People would gather together to remember something sacred, express their faith and hope for the future, and / or just be together formally, recognizing each other as being part of a shared community. Few things express a desire for shared companionship and social intimacy more than dining together. Sadly, the gathering together for feasting is increasingly a relic of the past – at least here in the West.

It need not be so! Today we will remember the ancient feasts.

THE FEAST OF ST. Luke, The Evangelist

This feast is a Christian religious celebration of St. Luke the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

Who is St. Luke the Evangelist?

Luke the Evangelist is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although a lack of conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious.

The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times, and the Epistle to the Colossians refers to him as a physician (from Greek for ‘one who heals’); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul.

Since the early years of the faith, Christians have regarded him as a saint. He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly having been hanged from an olive tree, though some believe otherwise. The Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day is 18 October.

Many scholars believe that Luke was a physician who lived in the Hellenistic city of Antioch in Ancient Syria, born of a Greek family, although some scholars and theologians think Luke was a Hellenic Jew. While it has been widely accepted that the theology of Luke–Acts points to a gentile Christian writing for a gentile audience, some have concluded that it is more plausible that Luke–Acts is directed to a community made up of both Jewish and gentile Christians since there is stress on the scriptural roots of the gentile mission (see the use of Isaiah 49:6 in Luke–Acts). DNA testing on what Christian tradition holds to be his body has revealed it to be of Syrian ancestry.

Whether Luke was a Jew or gentile, or something in between, it is clear from the quality of the Greek language used in Luke-Acts that the author, held in Christian tradition to be Luke, was one of the most highly educated of the authors of the New Testament. The author’s conscious and intentional allusions and references to, and quotations of, ancient Classical and Hellenistic Greek authors, such as Homer, Aesop, Epimenides, Euripides, Plato, and Aratus indicate that they were familiar with actual Greek literary texts. This familiarity most likely derived from their experiences as a youth of the very homogeneous Hellenistic educational curriculum (ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία, enkyklios paideia) that had been, and would continue to be, used for centuries throughout the eastern Mediterranean.[14]

Luke’s earliest mention is in the Epistle to Philemon, chapter 1, verse 24. He is also mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11, both traditionally held to be Pauline epistles (see Authorship of the Pauline epistles). The next earliest account of Luke is in the anti-Marcionite prologue to the Gospel of Luke, a document once thought to date to the 2nd century, but which has more recently been dated to the later 4th century.

Epiphanius states that Luke was one of the Seventy Apostles (Panarion 51.11), and John Chrysostom indicates at one point that the “brother” that Paul mentions in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas (Homily 18 on Second Corinthians on 2 Corinthians 8:18).

If one accepts that Luke was indeed the author of the Gospel bearing his name and the Acts of the Apostles, certain details of his personal life can be reasonably assumed. While he does exclude himself from those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry, he repeatedly uses the word we in describing the Pauline missions in Acts of the Apostles, indicating that he was personally there at those times.

Saint Luke as depicted in the head-piece of an Armenian Gospel manuscript from 1609, held at the Bodleian Library

The composition of the writings, as well as the range of vocabulary used, indicate that the author was an educated man. A quote in the Epistle to the Colossians differentiates between Luke and other colleagues “of the circumcision.”

10My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. 11Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. […] 14Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.

— 2 Colossians4:10–11, 14

This comment has traditionally caused commentators to conclude that Luke was a gentile. If this were true, it would make Luke the only writer of the New Testament who can clearly be identified as not being Jewish. However, that is not the only possibility. Although Luke is considered likely to have been a gentile Christian, some scholars believe him to have been a Hellenized Jew. The phrase could just as easily be used to differentiate between those Christians who strictly observed the rituals of Judaism and those who did not.

Luke’s presence in Rome with the Apostle Paul near the end of Paul’s life was attested by 2 Timothy 4:11: “Only Luke is with me”. In the last chapter of the Book of Acts, widely attributed to Luke, there are several accounts in the first person also affirming Luke’s presence in Rome, including Acts 28:16: “And when we came to Rome…” According to some accounts, Luke also contributed to the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Luke died at age 84 in Boeotia, according to a “fairly early and widespread tradition”. According to Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos, Greek historian of the 14th century (and others), Luke’s tomb was located in Thebes, whence his relics were transferred to Constantinople in the year 357.

Luke is also commonly associated with iconography’s origins within the Christian Church. Via wiki:

Though not included in the canonic pictorial of Mary’s life, the scene became increasingly popular as Saint Luke gained his own devotional following as the patron saint of artists in general, and more specifically as patron saint of the Guild of Saint Luke, the most common name of local painters’ guilds. The legend of Saint Luke as the author of the first Christian icons had been developed in Byzantium during the Iconoclastic Controversy, as attested by 8th century sources. By the 11th century, a number of images started being attributed to his authorship and venerated as authentic portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary. In the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Luke’s ascendancy paralleled a rise in status of painters themselves, whereas before the Renaissance, sculptors’ guilds and their associated craftsmen—which also included masons and architects, as all worked with stone—tended to be regarded more highly than painters. Many Guilds of St. Luke were conglomerate associations of various professions, including painters, paint-mixers, book illuminators, and sellers of all of these things. Saddle-makers too were members of these guilds: like illuminators, who worked with vellum, they too painted on leather when creating the colorful military harness of the day.

What do you eat for The Feast of St. Luke?

Traditionally, the four Gospel writers have been represented by the following symbols:

  • St. Matthew, a divine man;
  • St. Mark, a winged lion;
  • St. Luke, a winged ox; and
  • St. John, a rising eagle.

As St. Luke is associated with an ox, his feast day meal is often associated with beef. You could prepare some slow cooked beef to celebrate. From tasteofhome.com:

Festive Slow-Cooked Beef Tips Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 2 pounds), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans (4 ounces each) sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Hot cooked egg noodles


  1. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown beef in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon to a 3- or 4-qt. slow cooker.
  2. In same pan, add onion and celery; cook and stir until tender, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth, wine, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Pour over beef in slow cooker; stir in mushrooms. Cook, covered, on low until meat is tender, 6-8 hours. Remove rosemary and bay leaf.
  4. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch, water and vinegar until smooth; gradually stir into beef mixture. Serve with noodles.

When is this feast celebrated?

St. Luke’s Feast Day is celebrated on 18 October. If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day.

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