Blessed Luke

Blessed Luke

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Blessed Luke

Background of Saint Luke
? Saint Luke was born in 896 A.D. most likely in Delphi or in nearby Kastri in Central Greece.[1]? He is known today as Blessed Luke, Luke the Younger, St. Luke of Stiris, and Luke the Wonderworker (Thaumaturgus in Greek).? ?His parents were farmers in Thessaly.?[2]? Originally from Egina, St. Luke?s parents fled the island when the Saracens attacked it. Saracens was the name that Medieval Europeans used to describe the Arabs and all Muslims in general.? As a youth, St. Luke was prone to give to charity, even though his parents were not very wealthy or happy about their son?s giving.[3]? St. Luke was also noted for his healing/special powers from an early age.? ?One of his legendary wonders was to make his parents? crops yield more than anyone else?s? despite only planting half of the seeds he was supposed to.[4]

Life of Saint Luke
?As a teenager, St. Luke ran away from home after his father died.[5] However, another source said that he ran away from home because his parents were mad at him for wanting to enter into a monastery.[6] Unfortunately, soldiers mistook St. Luke for a runaway slave and put him in prison.? After he was freed, his mother finally gave her permission to allow Luke to enter a monastery outside of Athens.[7] He did not stay there long.? At the age of eighteen, St. Luke built a place on Mount Joannitsa near Corinth in Greece.[8] There he became a hermit.? St. Luke was credited with predicting the liberation of Crete, which happened within ten years after he died.[9]? Thus, he could predict the future as well as perform miracles.? It was also said that he settled in the village of Stiri.[10] According to different sources, he died either in the year 946 A.D. or 953 A.D.? His Saint?s Day is on February seventh of the Christian calendar.? The Orthodox Church declared Luke a Hossios and his relics were kept in the original church until the crypt was built in the Katholikon.

Ossios Loukas
?The name means Blessed Luke and the site contains two monastic churches: Holy Luke and Our Lady.? Alternate spellings of its name include Osios Loukas and Hosios Loukas.? The first church built on the site between 941 to 944 A.D. was built for St. Barbara originally.[11]? Holy Luke is called the Katholikon in Greek and was built over the crypt dedicated to St.

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Barbara that contains the body of St. Luke along with two other tombs.? Our Lady is called the Theotokos also in Greek.? The two churches are in the center of the complex with the Refectory located in the South.? There is a bell tower at the Southwest corner and a wall surrounds all of Ossios Loukas.?

Ossios Loukas is surrounded by olive groves close to the Greek city of Delphi and was founded to honor Luke as he was a local monk.? Ossios Loukas is nestled on the western slope of Mt. Helikon, which is below the acropolis of the ancient city of Steirion.[12]? There are still a few monks, a rotation of about twenty, who live at Ossios Loukas today in order to watch over the tomb of St. Luke and take care of the buildings.[13]? Although once a secluded place, Ossios Loukas has become popular with tourists and features a museum and shops.? During the War of Independence in 1821, the monastery saw some fighting and some canons still remain in its courtyard.[14]? Again in 1943, Ossios Loukas suffered some damage because of fighting.? Today it is considered one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in Greece.[15]

The Katholikon
?As it was built in the Greek Orthodox style, the katholikon has a narthex, the main church, and an altar like the class saw at St. George?s in Greenville.? An outer narthex was added in the 16th century.[16]? The church is composed of old large stone blocks and its external walls are very plain.? The Katholikon also features low lighting too out of respect for the body of St. Luke and to protect the church?s artwork.[17]? It is a monastic chapel.? Built in an octagonal style with triangular supports that hold it up along with eight arches, the Katholikon is bigger than the other church but is not quite as old as the Theotokos.[18] The original dome fell in 1593 because of an earthquake that hit the area.[19]?

It contains approximately 140 images, including frescoes and mosaics that date as far back as the 11th century.[20]? One of the mosaics located in the narthex, The Washing of the Apostles? Feet, is noted for its ?very human expression on the faces of the Apostles.?[21] The church?s mosaics ?represent the more severe and abstracted style of the Middle Byzantine decorative art.?[22]? The Katholikon?s lower walls are marble while mosaics adorn the upper walls and upper floor.? The mosaics lend a golden tint to the interior of the Katholikon because some are gilded.? Upon entering the building, one can see a golden mosaic of St. Luke over the entryway. Some of the artwork was damaged in 1659 due to another earthquake.[23]? The Archangels in the dome were done later than the original mosaics.[24]? Michael Damaskenos did the marble screen sometime during the 16th century.[25]

There is some controversy over who built The Katholikon and when.? Some historians claim that it was built by Emperor Constantine IX who reigned from 1042 1055 A.D.[26]? Others say the church?s builder was actually Emperor Romanos II who reigned from 956 A.D. to 963 A.D.[27]? The story goes that Emperor Romanos II wanted to be buried next to the tome of St. Luke, but that did not happen.[28]? The Crypt dedicated to St. Barbara is located at the northern end of the church and has three tombs.? One tomb holds Blessed Luke and the other two hold other saints.? The Katholikon was last reconstructed in 1964.[29]

The Theotokos

?Its name means the Mother of God and it honors the Virgin Mary.? The Theotokos is the older of the two churches built in the tenth century and originally it was the church of St. Barbara.[30]? In fact, St. Luke was still alive when it was being built.[31]? Its dome rests on four pillars and so it is smaller than the Katholikon.? It has some mosaics and frescoes as well, but it has ?elaborate exterior brickwork? that is cloisonnһasonry.[32]? The style of the Theotokos is called ?cross-and-square construction,? and is the oldest church of this type.[33]? It has a large two column narthex on its western side with a portico to the west of that.? It is this same portico that connects St. Luke?s to Our Lady (i.e. Katholikon and Theotokos).? As for its history, the Greeks shared the Theotokos with some Cistercian monks during the 13th century.[34]? It was damaged by yet another earthquake in 1790, but in 1848 it was reinforced with plaster casts.[35]? In 1965, a fresco named Jesus of Navi was found that dated back to the tenth century.? It had been covered when the Katholikon was built.[36]

?Every article describes Ossios Loukas as a magical place and one that should be visited while in Greece.


[1] Mike Gerrard, The National Geographic Traveler: Greece (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2001), 142.

[2] James Bentley, A Calendar of Saints: The Lives of the Principal Saints of the Christian Year (New York: Orbis Book Publishing, 1986), 31.

[3] Bentley, 31.

[4] Bentley, 31.

[5] John J. Delaney, Dictionary of Saints (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980), 367.

[6] Bentley, 31.

[7] Delaney, 368.

[8] Delaney, 368.

[9] Gerrard, 142.

[10] Gerrard, 142.

[11] Gerrard, 142.

[12] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture, <> (18 December 2003).

[13] ?Osios Loukas: Greek Orthodox Byzantine Monastery 1011 A.D.,? Top Greek Travel Destinations, < > (18 December 2003).

[14] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

[15] Gerrard, 142.

[16] ?Ossios Loukas Monastery,? Archaeological? Sites, Museums, & Monuments, <> (11 December 2003).

[17] Gerrard, 143.

[18] William M. Johnston, ed., Monasticism (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), 547.

[19] ?Ossios Loukas Monastery,? Archaeological Sites, Museums, & Monuments.

[20] Johnston, ed., 547.

[21] Gerrard, 143.

[22] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

[23] Gerrard, 143.

[24]?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

[25] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

[26] Johnston, ed., 547.

[27] Johnston, ed., 547.

[28] Johnston, ed., 547.

[29] Johnston, ed., 547.

[30] Johnston, ed., 547.

[31] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic? Ministry of Culture.

[32] Gerrard, 143.

[33] Johnston, ed., 547.

[34] Johnston, ed., 547.

[35] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

[36] ?Ossios Loukas,? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.


Bentley, James. A Calendar of Saints: The Lives of the

Principal Saints of the Christian Year. New York:

Orbis Book Publishing, 1986.

Delaney, John J. Dictionary of Saints. Garden City,

New York: Doubleday &Company, Inc., 1980.

Gerrard, Mike. The National Geographic Traveler:

Greece. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic,


Hagelstange, Rudolf. Greece. Berlin: Rembrandt-Verlag

GMBH, 1957.

Johnston, William M., ed. Monasticism. Chicago:

Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000.

?Osios Loukas: Greek Orthodox Byzantine Monastery 1011

A.D.? Top Greek Travel Destinations. <http://www.

Osios_loukas.htm> (18 December 2003).

?Ossios Loukas.? The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

<> (18 December 2003).

?Ossios Loukas Monastery.? Archaeological Sites,

Museums, & Monuments. <

Greece/cgreeceatt.html> (11 December 2003).
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