Here’s a saint study about Saint Luke, complete with lesson ideas and activities.
By Kate Daneluk
Find ways to lean into St. Luke, his life, and Gospel across the curriculum as we approach his feast day, October 18.
About Saint Luke
St. Luke is best known as one of the four Gospel writers. Most of us are aware that he authored Acts of the Apostles, as well. Little else, however, is known about Luke, one of the earliest Church leaders, but scholars have devoted volumes to discovering and deducing all they can.
It is believed that Luke was born in Antioch (in present-day Syria) and was either a wealthy Greek citizen or a slave in a Greek home. Several ancient sources assert that Luke the Evangelist is, in fact, the physician who traveled often with St. Paul. We might be surprised to think a doctor would be a slave, but slaves were commonly educated in medicine to serve as personal family physicians. Either way, by the time Luke converted to Christianity, he was operating as a free man.
Luke, a gentile, converted before he found Paul in the year 51. He joined him for much of his journey, but stayed behind to support the new Christian community in Phillippi, right before Paul was imprisoned. Seven years later, Paul, now free, returned to the area. He and Luke were reunited and continued to work and travel together along with some others. Ultimately, when Paul was imprisoned again, and finally martyred, Luke alone remained with him until the end.
There are different traditions regarding the end of Luke’s life. In some accounts, he was martyred, but more accounts describe him living a long life. The oldest tradition asserts that Luke settled in Boeotia to write his Gospel and died there at the age of 84.
While divinely inspired, and in perfect alignment with the other Gospels, Luke provides us with a unique voice as a gentile convert, physician, and missionary to the gentiles with Paul. Luke emphasizes God’s mercy. This is the Gospel of the Prodigal Son, where we see God waiting constantly with open arms for the repentant sinner. Luke learned about Christ from first-hand witnesses. He focuses his account on Christ’s unilateral respect and love for all people, especially those marginalized by society: women, the poor, the lepers, gentiles, Samaritans. He places a heavy emphasis on the sacrifice of Christ. Luke is the only Gospel to focus on Mary’s perspective of the Nativity and Childhood of Jesus. While this speaks to Luke’s background, it also hints to his character as a man of deep compassion, devotion, and love for mankind.
Fun facts about Saint Luke
Feast Day: October 18
St. Luke is the patron saint of:
The Gospel of Luke is called:
- The Gospel of Mercy
- The Gospel of Universal Salvation
- The Gospel of the Poor
- The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation
- The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit
- The Gospel of Joy
St. Luke’s symbol is the ox or winged ox. The ox is a sign of temple sacrifice, as Luke emphasizes the sacrificial love of Jesus. The wings remind us that the gospel is meant to be spread throughout the world. This may be why Luke is the patron of butchers.
Saint Luke in your classroom:
Find ways to lean into St. Luke, his life, and Gospel across the curriculum:
- History/Social Studies – Ancient Rome, Biblical times, the role of women, the poor, and slavery in ancient times
- Geography – Israel, ancient Israel, the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire, Syria, modern Greece
- Literature – Issues of Social Justice, slavery, rights of women, missionaries
- Science – Medical history and advances from ancient times
- Religion – Conversion, the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, Social Justice, Sacrifice, Missionary Life
- Art – Luke is the patron saint of artists because several early paintings of Mary were attributed to him for a time. This was later found to be untrue, but his patronage remains and the importance of the Blessed Mother to him is evident in his Gospel. Keep in mind, the “Hail Mary” is directly from the Gospel of Luke.
- Storytime/Drama (grades K – 3) – St. Luke chooses to tell some of the most famous of Jesus’ parables, The Prodigal Son, The Sower, The Good Samaritan, The Rich Fool. He spent years interviewing eyewitnesses while Paul was in jail. Divide the class into small groups to act out each of the parables and present them to the class or for parents at a special event.
- Biblical Theology Project (grades 5 and up) – After learning about Luke’s life and Gospel, have students go through the Gospel, finding evidence of Luke’s unique voice throughout the Gospel. You may also wish to assign an argumentative essay in which students explain and support different characteristics of Luke’s Gospel.
- Biblical History project (grades 3 and up) – Have your students learn more about the life of Luke and the other people of the Gospels and Acts. Learn about the world Jesus lived in with presentations on life in Israel at the time. This research project can include crafts and costumes and demonstrations similar to a Colonial Fair Project. You may want to read the book, The Golden Bow, as a class to help paint the historical picture. Some ideas for projects may be:
- Fishing on the Sea of Galilee
- Tax collector, the least popular family in town
- Family Farming, Vineyards, Orchards
- Sheep Herding
- A Physician in Ancient Rome
- Life of a Rabbi
- Merchants and their travels
- Work of a Blacksmith
- The Resistance against Rome
- Priests, Sadducees, Pharisees
- The Government Official
Kate Daneluk is a former Catholic school teacher, early childhood music teacher, creator of the Making Music, Praying Twice music curriculum, and a homeschooling mother of six.