Science and Religion

Saint Luke of Crimea

Saint Luke of Crimea

A Holy Bishop and scholar in medicine

Apologist of the Orthodox faith in a period so troubled and tense for the Church as the proletariat dictatorship dominated by atheist ideology of Bolsheviks, the figure of the Holy hierarch Luke (1877-1961) impresses as illuminator model in Christ first of all to "doctors who serve with self-sacrifice the sick fallen person and to priests who take care with medical devotion of the soul and the human body of sick but resurrected man" (Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos, The Holy Archbishop Luke 1877-1961-the surgeon without salary, ed. Biserica Ortodoxă & Egumenița, Galați, 1998, p. 1), but as well to any honest seeker of God. To incarnate the highest scientific performance synergistically with the spiritual effort of the man invested by the Most High as hierarch, to be committed to both scientific and theological fulfillment, all this makes the Archbishop Luke a figurehead in the history of the Church.

He was a witness of the Orthodox faith in difficult times, as he himself was aware of, "it makes you turn from Archbishop into bush meat" (ibid., p. 100), in other words into a martyr. Wearing the cassock as evidence of his ecclesial commitment everywhere his profession of surgeon was leading him, is alike a martyrdom. Imagine confuse atheists around him at that time when the society was moving towards apostasy: " the event of the priestly ordination of a physician has fallen like lightning over the city of Tașkent [...] they could not accept that a valuable researcher wanted to become a priest [...] many colleagues acted with hostility and in an irresponsible manner [...] as he walked in the street, he could hear offensive, ironic, critical sentences, [...] there were also priests who were afraid, who betrayed the cassock and renounced the priesthood. He remained director of the General Hospital in Tașkent, operating every day and teaching courses at the School of Medicine, always dressed in cassock and bearing the cross "(ibid., pp. 78-79).

The Socratic serving of the sick person becomes in his life a continuous evangelical testimony of Christ's healing presence. He amazed his contemporaries by the fact that "this man, idealist doctor who believed in the supernatural and God, in his science was just better than anyone else" (ibid., p. 59). He will confess Christ with any risk, be that of the charge of political crime. He will vigorously refuse the request of the officials to remove the icon of the Mother of God from the operating room. To the uniform speech: "The operating room is a public service. We separated the state from the Church. If our surgeon wants to pray, it’s his business, but he should keep the icon at home ", he will prefer to no longer come to the hospital, and each time the party had to give in (ibid., p. 67).

Through honest dialog with detractors, he gave a Christian testimony in an environment at least indifferent to faith, if not downright hostile. There were also public disputes, whose stake could be quantified in human lives. "How is it possible that you believe in God, Father and surgeon Voino-Iasenețki? Have you ever seen your God?" he was asked in a public trial where the fate of many innocent people was at stake, in defense of which he interfered with courage: "God, indeed, I've never seen Him, Mister prosecutor. But I did operations on the brain, and I have not seen inside the mind. And I didn't either see conscience!” (ibid., p. 86). In a similar way, in 1947, in the middle of a congress, he replies regarding God in which he believes although he didn’t see Him, that we believe love and mind exist although they are not visible (ibid., p. 331). During another congress, this time at Yalta, he apologetically confesses: "Often, dear colleagues, you hear these words: my heart is full of love or hate. But when you open the heart you can't find any of these, only muscle and blood. Or when you open the skull, you don't see in it either mind, or stupidity. So, I've not seen God, but I believe in Him "(ibid., pp. 331-332).

His life of Christian witnessing will determine his friend, the famous scientist Ivan Pavlov, to confess in a letter: "I participate to your martyrdom with all my heart" (ibid., p. 153). Martyrdom strengthened by God’s grace and kindness, Who will make him understand that his Essays “are pleasing Lord," as well he will receive confirmation from the Most High, “because in this way I confessed His name in a period of booming anti-religious propaganda "(ibid., p. 213).
Such a Holy life will be crowned with immortality of the body. His passion for Christ will become the example of salvation for others, which bring us on the spiritual space of an apologia experienced as a way of life, showing positive results through conversion to Christianity of those receiving his testimony (Popovski, the journalist who will study St. Luke’s life wishing to write his biography, will convert from atheism to Christianity).


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