On the 28th of May, 2014, during the construction of the Church of Saint Luke the Physician, at the Monastery of the Holy Mother in Dovra, Veria, Greece, a festal Hierarchical Vesper was being celebrated.  The purpose of the Vesper was to honor the arrival of the relics of St. Luke the Physician from Simferopol, Crimea, Russia.  Bishop Theodoritos of Nazianzus was the celebrant and the homilist.  The following day a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Panteleimon of Veria, Greece.  Bishops Theoridoritos and Dimitrius and many priests were concelebrants at the Divine Liturgy.  They had all come together in order to honor the Saint and to receive the blessing of the Saint.   Shortly before the end of the service, Archimandrite Sosipratos Pitoulias was asked by the Metropolitan of Veria to speak to the congregation about the recent miracle that was performed by Saint Luke for his nephew.
            Father Sosipatros, who was visibly emotional, began to tell the faithful about the miracle that was performed by the Saint.  Fr. Sosipatros said the following:“The child Elias was a few months old when he was diagnosed with leukemia.  I and Fr. Gregory Maza took turns at the hospital keeping vigil for the child.  On the eve of the falling asleep of Saint Luke the Physician, June 10, Father Gregory, late one night left the hospital in order for him to get some rest. He left me at the hospital to watch over the child.  A short time after he left the hospital, he phoned me and was very emotional.  Although he was emotional his voice was also very joyous.  He said to me: “Father Sosipatros Saint Luke has once again performed a miracle!”  My response was: “What happened?”  He said: “When I left the hospital, I took a cab to my home.  A short time before arriving at my house, the unknown cab driver asked me:: “Is everything all right?” “Father Gregory was perplexed by this and answered:” “Everything is just fine.”  “The cab driver asked the same question once again:” “Father, is everything all right?” Father Gregory not wanting to continue the conversation with the unknown cab driver answered curtly:” “Everything is all right.”  “And then the cab driver said to him:” “Father Gregory, that child that you are taking care of, which is not yours, will recover!”   “Father Gregory became confused at hearing this and then directing himself to the unknown cabby asked him:” “How do you know about the child? How do you know about me? How do you know about all these things?  And the cab driver answered him: “  “Do not ask me many questions Father, the child that you are taking care of, and which is not yours will get well.”  “They had reached their destination and the taxi stopped. Father Gregory, in shock, paid the taxi fare to the unknown driver who knew everything about him.  The taxi driver took the money and gave Father Gregory change and then just disappeared.  I do not know if that taxi driver was Saint Luke or the Saint was speaking through him.  That which I know is that little Elias has been healed!”

            The response of the congregation on hearing this miraculous story from Father Sosipatros left them in shock. Little Elias, who was in the Church being held by his uncle, is the recipient of one more miracle performed by Saint Luke.

St. Luke the Physician and St. Panteleimon
Perform an astounding Miracle in a hospital

St. Luke reposed in 1960 & St. Panteleimon was martyred in 305 AD
Their deaths are separated by 1655 years and yet they perform
Miracles in the 21st century—Life continues after death

            A young girl was scheduled to be operated on in the City of Simferopol, Crimea, Russia.  Her condition was very critical and the operation was very difficult and dangerous.  The doctor, who was scheduled to operate on her spoke to the mother of the young girl saying to her: “The procedure is a very difficult and dangerous operation.  I cannot guarantee you anything.  I do not know whether or not your daughter will survive.”  There was no other choice; the operation had to take place.  The young girl was prepped and was rolled into the operating room.  During the whole procedure the mother of the girl was waiting in the courtyard of the hospital.  With tears in her eyes, she was praying to Saint Luke the Physician and to Saint Panteleimon for their intercessions.  Suddenly, an unbelievable vision unfolded before her eyes.  The wall of the hospital disappeared and it became like a glass wall through which she could see.  She could clearly see the operating room. 

            The mother could see her daughter on the operating room table surrounded by the doctor that was to operate on her along with other doctors.  Standing next to the doctor was a nurse who had the responsibility of handing her the operating tools.  The mother was also seeing something even more amazing in the operating room as looked upon the scene unfolding before her very eyes.  Standing on the left side of the doctor was Saint Panteleimon holding a lit candle.  On the right side of the doctor was standing Saint Luke who was handing the operating tools from the nurse to the doctor.

            In seeing this unfold before her very eyes, the mother was beyond herself with astonishment.  She felt that her prayers had been heard.  When the operation was over, the doctor came out of the operating room with an enthusiastic smile.  She approached the mother and said to her: “The operation went exceedingly well, unbelievably well.” The mother then explained to the doctor the unbelievable vision that she saw.  Upon hearing this, the doctor was dumbfounded.   The doctor made the sign of the Cross and confessed: “Now I understand what happened.  During the course of the operation, and as I needed an operating tool, I didn’t even have time to say what I wanted to the nurse. By simply thinking what I wanted, the tool was in my hand.”

            The province of Crimea dominated the news back in March of this year as the nations of the Ukraine and Russia were locked in a struggle to determine the future of the region.  Whatever one’s political leanings—toward Ukraine or Russia, Orthodox Christians know that the land of Crimea is blessed by the presence of a modern day Saint and miracle worker: St. Luke the Physician, Bishop of Simferopol and Crimea.

            The future St. Luke was born on April 27, 1877 with the name Valentine Felixovich Voino-Yasenesky in the eastern area of Crimea.  His parents were not active in the practice of their faith as he noted in his memoirs: “I did not receive a religious upbringing.”  He described his first true understanding of his Christian Faith after reading the New Testament which was a graduation gift from his high school principal.  This Bible became his constant companion, studying and underlining meaningful passages in red ink.  With a natural talent for art, Valentine intended to study at an art institute but decided he should devote his life to benefit his suffering people. He decided to enroll in the medical school of Kiev University in order to devote his life to alleviating suffering among the peasants in the remote villages.  He wrote in his memoirs: “I studied medicine with the sole purpose of becoming a villager, a peasant doctor, and helping poor people.”  Upon his graduation he received additional training in various district hospitals.  During this time he married a nurse by the name of Anna Lanskaya who had the nickname among her patients as “the holy nurse.”  Together Valentine and Anna were blessed with four children.  Dr. Valentine became known not only as a skilled medical doctor but as a compassionate human being.  He wrote in a letter to his son: “ I suffer deeply if a patient dies after an operation.  I had three deaths in the operating room and this literally crushed me.  I prayed for the dead at home because there is no Church here.”

            In 1917, Dr. Valentine was in the city of Tashkent as the head surgeon in the largest city hospital as well as a professor in the college of medicine.  In that year the Russian Revolution erupted across the nation and with it a civil war which soon reached the remote Tashkent region.  As the Communists assumed power, they began an organized campaign against religious faith.  Dr. Valentine was under constant threat since he had become a devout Orthodox Christian and refused to conduct surgery without an icon of the Holy Mother hanging in the operating room, beginning each surgical procedure with the Sign of the Cross.  He was arrested for the first time in October 1919 on false charges and was nearly executed by a firing squad.  Several days later, his beloved wife died from tuberculosis at the age of 38 leaving him a widower with four children.  The Bishop of the Tashkent Diocese, Innocent, became acquainted with the well known doctor and admired his deep Orthodox Faith.  After hearing Dr. Valentine speak at a Diocesan meeting he said: “Doctor, you must become a priest!”  St. Luke later wrote in his memoirs: “I had never thought about being a priest, but I accepted the words of the Right Reverend Innocent as God’s calling pronounced by the Bishop’s lips, and without the slightest hesitation, I replied, ‘Be it as you say, Vladyka, I will be a priest if it is pleasing to God.”

            In the midst of the fierce persecution of the Church by the Communists, when many clergy were renouncing their faith and their priesthood in order to be spared persecution, Dr. Valentine was ordained on February 15, 1921.  The new priest continued his practice of medicine and surgery, giving his lectures and receiving patients while wearing his cassock and priestly Cross.

            During the time of terror, Bishop Innocent of Tashkent disappeared and the clergy of the Diocese elected Fr. Valentine to be the new Bishop.  He was tonsured a monk with the name of Luke, and was consecrated as a Bishop in secret with the Church doors locked on May 31, 1923.  One month after his consecration, Bishop Luke was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment and exiled to Siberia, the beginning of his sharing in the sufferings of Jesus Christ.  This was only the first of three times that the Bishop was arrested and sent into exile, which he endured for a total of 11 years.  He endured extreme cold, hunger, betrayal by fellow priests, solitary confinement, beatings, humiliation and a special kind of torture known as the conveyor in which Communist agents took turns with beatings and interrogations which continued nonstop for days.  The Bishop never relented in his devotion to Jesus Christ.  He later wrote:” “They tell me to take off the cassock, but I will never do it.  The cassock will remain with me until death.  I don’t know what they want from me.  I believe in God.  I help people as a doctor; I help also as a pastor of the Church.  Whom do I harm?”
            While many Orthodox Christians tend to compartmentalize their faith, that is, reserve it for Sundays and when involved in Church things, Bishop Luke’s Orthodox Faith was a part of his daily life and secular career, even under threat of arrest and torture.  With the beginning of the World War II and the invasion of Russia by the Germans, the Communist government began to ease their persecution against the Church in order to rally the people in defense of the country.  Bishop Luke was freed from exile in 1942 and resumed his Episcopal ministry as well as his medical practice.  He published two scientific works: Essays on the Surgery of Phylogenic Infections and Late Resections of Infected Gunshot Wounds in Joints which he was awarded the prestigious Stalin Award, using the prize money to help children victimized by the war.

            Despite the easing of open persecution against the Church, Bishop Luke continued his ministry as a Bishop under very difficult circumstances.  The Bishop found Churches and Monasteries in ruins throughout his Diocese with few priests.  Many of the priests were negligent in their pastoral duties, officiating at services in a mechanical way, viewing the priesthood as simply a job.  Government officials used any excuse to close a Church and intervened in parish councils, appointing atheists, thieves and alcoholics to interfere in the daily administration of parishes. The Bishop’s mail was opened, his telephone conversations were recorded and government agents regularly photographed lay people who participated in his divine services.

            The Bishop lived simply and poorly, occupying two rooms in a decrepit old house with many of the neighborhood poor coming in for food which the Bishop provided for everyone.  He served the Divine Liturgy nearly every day even when losing his eye-sight in 1956.  As his health failed and he recognized that the end of his life was near, he reflected on his life and ministry: “My long journey was difficult and thorny, but at the same time it was also a remarkably blessed one. God’s grace was with me along the way, and my path was illumined by the Light of Christ.  And it is a joy for me, a very great joy, to have traveled that path.  It was a great act of kindness done by God for me.  I consider the difficult years of priesthood, soon followed by my service as a Bishop, not as burdensome, but as the most blessed, best, happiest years of my life.”
            On June 11, 1961, the blessed Bishop and surgeon fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 84.  Soon miraculous healings began to be reported at his tomb and when his relics were exhumed in 1996, an indescribable fragrance emanated from his relics.  They found that although his body had disintegrated in the grave, the only organ of his body that remained intact was his heart. He lived with such love and concern for his fellow man that God honored him with an incorrupt heart. He was glorified as a Saint of the Orthodox Church in 2000 and his relics continue to work miracles at the Cathedral in Simferopol, Crimea.
Translated from the Greek & edited by:
+Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones, Dec. 5, 2014, Waterford, CT, USA.