Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    OCU tells story of St. Luke of Crimea: Surgeon and Scholar

    Throughout his life, St. Luke combined the service of God with the work of a surgeon and researcher. Having undertaken priesthood in the Soviet times of militant atheism, he never renounced the Lord, even subjected to NKVD torture, and until the end of his earthly journey he remained faithful to his life choice.

    He is commemorated by the Orthodox annually, on June 11, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine reported on Facebook.

    A future saint, Valentyn Voino-Yasenetsky, was born in Kerch in 1877. In his childhood years, he was an avid drawer, even planning to enter the art academy. Everything changed as the director of the gymnasium gave his graduate Valentyn a New Testament edition. The words of the Gospel were engraved in the young man’s heart and forced him to reconsider his plans for the future: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”(Matthew 9: 37–38).

    The future saint entered the medical faculty at Kyiv University, becoming a “worker” in the hands of the Lord. For years he worked as a surgeon and performed surgeries both in peacetime and on the fronts of wars. In some locations, he would not have all necessary tools at hand, so he was forced to perform surgeries with a folding knife, metal tongs, while instead of strands he would use women’s hair. At the same time, St. Luke worked on research: he discovered new methods of anesthesia and defended a doctorate in medicine.

    In addition to his secular career, the young surgeon periodically took an active part in spiritual debates. After one of his addresses, a bishop present at the event told him privately, “Doctor, you must become a priest.” These words were taken as God’s call, and in 1921, at a terrible time of anti-religious persecution and repression, surgeon Valentyn was ordained as a priest. Since then, he has combined ministry and medical practice, performing surgeries with equal zeal as preaching the glory of the Lord. Two years later, he secretly pledged monastic vows in the name of the apostle, evangelist, physician, and artist Luke. He was ordained as a bishop.

    Despite severe persecution by authorities, St. Luke never concealed his faith in the Lord: he lectured and performed surgeries sporting a cassock, blessed the sick, and prayed ahead of surgeries. Despite numerous interrogations and tortures by the NKVD security agency, he never renounced Christ and even throughout his many years of exile in Siberia saved human souls and bodies as a priest and a doctor. “I consider it my primary duty to preach Christ everywhere,” the saint said as he remained faithful to this principle forever.

    “A scalpel in God’s hands,” as he called himself, St. Luke performed hundreds of surgeries and saved thousands of lives by inventing a method of treating purulent wounds. Even after he passed, the sick would find healing at his grave. But the saint saved even more souls with his sincere word of God, sermons and prayers. Years later, his instruction reaches us: “The main thing in life is to do good. If you can’t do great good for people, try to do at least small.”

    Saint Luke is an example of sincere devotional service to the Lord and people by action and words, both in the spiritual and secular life. May the Lord help us all through his prayers!