Rectors Reflections

The Doctor and the Artist

On the 18th October, the church traditionally celebrates the feast of St. Luke, the author of one of the 4 gospels in the New Testament, and also the author of the Acts of the Apostles, a historical work telling the history of the early Church. Not much is known of Luke’s life, although in one of the other books of the New Testament he is described as Luke the Physician. Down the centuries, Luke has been regarded as the patron saint of doctors and others in the medical profession.

By the early Middle Ages, Luke was also regarded as the patron saint of artists. It’s not clear why this came about. It might be a sign of respect for Luke’s skill as a writer. Luke’s gospel is full of passages of great artistic beauty, and these passages have inspired artists down the centuries to produce significant works of art. For example, it is in Luke’s gospel that we read of the visit of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Annunciation, and it is Luke’s gospel which includes the parable of the Prodigal Son. Both these stories have inspired memorable works of art.

So, Luke has become the patron saint of Doctors and Artists, and it is his feast day on 18th October. It is an opportunity to give thanks for our Doctors and other medical professionals, and to pray for them and for their work. These Coronavirus times have made us even more aware of the vital role played by all who work in our health services. It is also an opportunity to pray for all artists, and to give thanks for all who work in the creative industries - the painters, sculptors, musicians, actors, and writers who do so much to improve the quality of our lives. The restrictions brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic have had a serious impact on the financial viability of much of the cultural life of our country. Our artists certainly deserve our prayers, and our financial support, too.

The fact that Luke is the patron saint of both doctors and artists reminds us that our well-being as human beings has many dimensions. Of course, our physical and mental health is important. But the arts also play a role in our well-being. So too do our relationships with one another, and the wider well-being of our communities and our society.

Father Jason