The Golden Legend
The Life of Saint Luke
Here followeth of Saint Luke the Evangelist, and first of his name.

Luke is as much to say as arising or enhancing himself. Or Luke is said of light, he was raising himself from the love of the world, and enhancing into the love of God. And he was also light of the world, for he enlumined the universal world by holy predication, and hereof saith Saint Matthew, Mathei quinto: Ye be the light of the world. The light of the world is the sun, and that light hath height in his seat or siege. And hereof saith Ecclesiasticus the twenty-sixth chapter: The sun rising in the world is in the right high things of God, he hath delight in beholding. And as it is said Ecclesiastes undecimo: The light of the sun is sweet, and it is delightable to the eyes to see the sun. He hath swiftness in his moving as it is said in the Second Book of Esdras the fourth chapter. The earth is great and the heaven is high and the course of the sun is swift, and hath profit in effect, for after the philosopher, man engendereth man, and the sun. And thus Luke had highness by the love of things celestial, delectable by sweet conversation, swiftness by fervent predication and utility, and profit by conscription and writing of his doctrine.

Of Saint Luke Evangelist.

Luke was of the nation of Syria, and Antiochian by art of medicine, and after some he was one of seventy-two disciples of our Lord. Saint Jerome saith that he was disciple of the apostles and not of our Lord, and the gloss upon the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Exodus signifieth that he joined not to our Lord when he preached, but he came to the faith after his resurrection. But it is more to be holden that he was none of the seventy-two disciples, though some hold opinion that he was one. But he was of right great perfection of life, and much well ordained as toward God, and as touching his neighbour, as touching himself, and as touching his office. And in sign of these four manners of ordinances he was described to have four faces, that is to wit, the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox and the face of an eagle, and each of these beasts had four faces and four wings, as it is said in Ezechiel the first chapter. And because it may the better be seen, let us imagine some beast that hath his head four square, and in every square a face, so that the face of a man be tofore, and on the right side the face of the lion, and on the left side the face of the ox, and behind the face of the eagle, and because that the face of the eagle appeared above the other for the length of the neck, therefore it is said that this face was above, and each of these four had four pens. For when every beast was quadrate as we may imagine, in a quadrate be four corners, and every corner was a pen. By these four beasts, after that saints say, be signified the four evangelists, of whom each of them had four faces in writing, that is to wit, of humanity, of the passion, of the resurrection, and of the divinity. How be it these things be singularly to singular, for after Saint Jerome, Matthew is signified in the man, for he was singularly moved to speak of the humanity of our Lord. Luke was figured in the ox, for he devised about the priesthood of .Jesu Christ. Mark was figured in the lion, for he wrote more clearly of the resurrection. For as some say, the fawns of the lion be as they were dead unto the third day, but by the braying of the lion they been raised at the third day, and therefore he began in the cry of predication. John is figured as an eagle, which fleeth highest of the four, for he wrote of the divinity of Jesu Christ. For in him be written four things. He was a man born of the virgin, he was an ox in his passion, a lion in his resurrection, and an eagle in his ascension. And by these four faces it is well showed that Luke was rightfully ordained in these four manners. For by the face of a man it is showed that he was rightfully ordained as touching his neighbour, how he ought by reason teach him, draw him by debonairly, and nourish him by liberality, for a man is a beast reasonable, debonair, and liberal. By the face of an eagle it is showed that he was rightfully ordained as touching God, for in him the eye of understanding beheld God by contemplation, and the eye of his desire was to him by thought or effect, and old age was put away by new conversation. The eagle is of sharp sight, so that he beholdeth well, without moving of his eye, the ray of the sun, and when he is marvellous high in the air he seeth well the small fishes in the sea. He hath also his beak much crooked, so that he is let to take his meat, he sharpeth it and whetteth it against a stone, and maketh it convenable to the usage of his feeding. And when he is roasted by the hot sun, he throweth himself down by great force into a fountain, and taketh away his old age by the heat of the sun, and changeth his feathers, and taketh away the darkness of his eyes. By the face of the lion it is showed how he was ordained as touching himself. For he had noblesse by honesty of manners and holy conversation, he had subtlety for to eschew the Iying in wait for his enemies, and he had sufferance for to have pity on them that were tormented by affliction. The lion is a noble beast, for he is king of beasts. He is subtle, he defaceth his traces and steps with his tail when he fleeth, so that he shall not be found; he is suffering, for he suffereth the quartan. By the face of an ox it is showed how he was ordained as touching his office, that was to write the gospel. For he proceeded morally, that is to say by morality, that he began from the nativity and childhood of Jesu Christ, and so proceeded little and little unto his last consummation. He began discreetly, and that was after other two evangelists, that if they had left any thing he should write it, and that which they had suffciently said he should leave. He was well mannered, that is to say well learned and induced in the sacrifices and works of the temple, as it appeareth in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. The ox is a moral beast and hath his foot cloven, by which is discretion understood, and it is a beast sacrificeable. And truly, how that Luke was ordained in the four things, it is better showed in the ordinance of his life. First, as touching his ordinance unto God. After Saint Bernard, he was ordained in three manners, that is by affection and desire, by thought and intention. The affection ought to be holy, the thought clean, and intention rightful. He had the affection holy, for he was full of the Holy Ghost, like as Jerome saith in his prologue upon Luke: He went into Bethany full of the Holy Ghost. Secondly, he had a clean thought, for he was a virgin both in body and mind, in which is noted cleanness of thought. Thirdly, he had rightful intention, for in all things that he did he sought the honour of God. And of these two last things it is said in the prologue upon the Acts of the Apostles: He was without sin and abode in virginity, and this is touching the cleanness of thought. He loved best to serve our Lord, that is to the honour of our Lord, this is as touching the rightful intention. Fourthly, he was ordained as touching his neighbour. We be ordained to our neighbour when we do that we ought to do. After Richard of S.Victor, there be three things that we owe to our neighbour, that is our power, our knowledge, and our wild, and let the fourth be put to, that is all that we may do. Our power in helping him, our knowledge in counselling him, our will in his desires, and our deeds in services. As touching to these four, Saint Luke was ordained, for he gave first to his neighbour his power in aiding and obsequies, and that appeareth by that he was joined to Paul in his tribulations and would not depart from him, but was helping him in his preachings, like as it is written in the second epistle of Paul in the fourth chapter to Timothy, saying: Luke is only with me. In that he saith, only with me, it signifieth that he was a helper, as that he gave to him comfort and aid, and in that he said only, it signifieth that he joined to him firmly. And he said in the eighth chapter to the II Corinthians: He is not alone, but he is ordained of the churches to be fellow of our pilgrimage. Secondly, he gave his knowledge to his neighbour in counsels. He gave then his knowledge to his neighbour when he wrote to his neighbours the doctrine of the apostles, and of the gospel that he knew. And hereof he beareth himself witness in his prologue; saying: It is mine advice, and I assent, good Theophilus, to write to thee, right well of the beginning by order, so that thou know the truth of the words of which thou art taught. And it appeareth well that he gave his knowledge in counsels to his neighbours, by the words that Jerome saith in his prologue, that is to wit, that his words be medicine unto a sick soul. Thirdly, he gave his will unto the desires of his neighbour, and that appeareth by that, that he desireth that they should have health perdurable, like as Paul saith to the Colossians: Luke the leech saluteth you; that is to say, Think ye to have health perdurable, for he desireth it to you. Fourthly, he gave to his neighbour his deed in their services. And it appeareth by that that he supposed that our Lord had been a strange man, and he received him into his house and did to him all the service of charity, for he was fellow to Cleophas when they went to Emmaus, as some say. And Gregory saith in his Morals, that Ambrose saith it was another, of whom he nameth the name. Thirdly, he was well ordained as touching himself. And after Saint Bernard, three things there be that ordain a man right well as touching himself, and maketh him holy, that is to live soberly, and rightful labour, and a debonair wit. And after Saint Bernard each of these three is divided into three, that is, to live soberly, if we live companionably, continently, and humbly. Rightful work is, if he be rightful, discreet, and fruitful. Rightful by good intention, discreet by measure, and fruitful by edification. The wit is debonair, when our faith feeleth God to be sovereign good, so that by his puissance we believe that our infirmity be holpen by his power, our ignorance be corrected by his wisdom, and that our wickedness be defaced by his bounty. And thus saith Bernard: In all these things was Saint Luke well ordained. He had, first, sober living in treble manner, for he lived continently. For as Saint Jerome witnesseth of him in the prologue upon Luke, he had never wife ne children. He lived companionably, and that is signified of him, where it is said of him and Cleophas in the opinion aforesaid: Two disciples went that same day, etc. Fellowship is signified in that he saith, two disciples, that is to say, well mannered. Thirdly he lived humbly, of which humility is showed of that he expressed the name of his fellow Cleophas and spake not of his own name. And after the opinion of some, Luke named not his name for meekness. Secondly, he had rightful work and deed, and his work was rightful by intention, and that is signified in his collect where it is said: Qui crucis mortificationem jugiter in corpore suo pro tui nominis amore portavit: he bare in his body mortification of his flesh for the love of thy name. He was discreet by temperance, and therefore he was figured in the form of an ox, which hath the foot cloven, by which the virtue of discretion is expressed; he was also fruitful by edification; he was so fruitful to his neighbours that he was holden most dear of all men, wherefore, Ad Colossenses quarto, he was called of the apostle most dearest: Luke the leech saluteth you. Thirdly, he had a meek wit, for he believed and confessed in his gospel, God to be sovereignly mighty, sovereignly wise, and sovereignly good. Of the two first, it is said in the fourth chapter: They all were abashed in his doctrine, for the word of him was in his power. And of the third, it appeareth in the eighteenth chapter, where he saith: There is none good but God alone. Fourthly, and last, he was right well ordained as touching his office, the which was to write the gospel, and in this appeareth that he was ordained because that the said gospel is ennoblished with much truth, it is full of much profit, it is embellished with much honesty and authorised by great authority. It is first ennoblished with much truth. For there be three truths, that is of life, of righteousness, and of doctrine. Truth of life is concordance of the hand to the tongue, truth of righteousness is concordance of the sentence to the cause, and truth of doctrine is concordance of the thing to the understanding, and the gospel is ennoblished by this treble verity and this treble verity is showed in the gospel. For Luke showeth that Jesu Christ had in him this treble verity, and that he taught it to others, and showeth that God had this truth by the witness of his adversaries. And that saith he in the twenty seventh chapter: Master, we know well that thou art true, and teachest and sayest rightfully that is the verity of the doctrine, but thou teachest in truth the way of God, that is the truth of life, for good life is the way of God. Secondly, he showeth in his gospel that Jesu Christ taught this treble truth. First, he taught the truth of life, the which is in keeping the commandments of God, whereof it is said: Thou shalt love thy Lord God, do that and thou shalt live. And when a Pharisee demanded our Lord: What shall I do for to possess the everlasting life? He said: Knowest thou not the commandments? Thou shalt not slay, thou shalt do no theft, ne thou shalt do no adultery? Secondly, there is taught the verity of doctrine, wherefore he said to some that perverted this truth, the eleventh chapter: Woe be to you Pharisees, that tithe the people, et cetera, and pass over the judgment and charity of God. Also in the same: Woe be to you wise men of law, which have taken the key of science. Thirdly, is taught the truth of righteousness, where it is said: Yield ye that longeth to the emperor, and that ye owe to God, to God. And he saith the nineteenth chapter: They that be my enemies and will not that I reign upon them, bring them hither and slay them tofore me. And he saith in the thirteenth chapter, where he speaketh of the doom, that he shall say to them that be reproved: Depart from me, ye that have done wickedness. Secondly, his gospel is full of much profit, whereof Paul and himself write that he was a leech or a physician, wherefore in his gospel it is signified that he made ready for us medicine most profitable. There is treble medicine, curing, preserving, and amending. And this treble medicine showeth Saint Luke in his gospel that, the leech celestial hath made ready. The medicine curing is that which cureth the malady, and that is penance, which taketh away all maladies spiritual. And this medicine saith he that the celestial leech hath made ready for us when he saith: Heal ye them that be contrite of heart, and preach ye to the caitiffs the remission of sins. And in the fifth chapter he saith: I am not come to call the just and true men, but the sinners to penance. The medicine amending is that which encreaseth health, and that is the observation of counsel, for good counsel maketh a man better and more perfect. This medicine showeth us the heavenly leech when he saith in the eighteenth chapter: Sell all that ever thou hast and give to poor men. The medicine preservative is that which preserveth from falling, and this is the eschewing of the occasions to sin, and from evil company. And this medicine showeth to us the heavenly leech when he saith in the twelfth chapter: Keep you from the meat of the Pharisees, and there he teacheth us to eschew the company of shrews and evil men. Or it may be said that the said gospel is replenished with much profit, because that all virtue is contained therein. And hereof saith Saint Ambrose: Luke compriseth in his gospel all the virtues of wisdom in history, he enseigned the nativity when he showed the incarnation of our Lord to have been made of the Holy Ghost. But David enseigned natural wisdom when he said: Send out the Holy Ghost, and they shall be created, and when he enseigned darkness made in the time of the passion of Jesu Christ, and trembling of the earth, and the sun had withdrawn her light and rays. And he taught morality when he taught manners in his blessedness. He taught reasonable things when he said: He that is true in little things, he is true in great things. And without this treble wisdom, the mystery of the Trinity, ne of our faith, may not be, that is to wit, wisdom natural, reasonable, and moral. And this is that Saint Ambrose saith. Thirdly, his gospel is embellished and made fair with much honesty, so that the style and manner of speaking is much honest and fair. And three things be convenient to this, that some men hold in his dictes honesty and beauty, the which Saint Austin teacheth, that is to wit, that it please, that it appear and move. That it please, he ought to speak ornately; that it appear, that he ought to speak appertly; that it move, that he speak fervently. And this manner had Lucas in writing and in preaching. Of the two first it is said in the eighth chapter of the II Corinthians: We sent with him a brother, the gloss Barnabas or Luke, of whom the praising is in all churches of the gospel. In this that he said the praising of him, is signified that he spake ornately; in this that he said in all churches, it is signified that he spake appertly. And that he spake fervently it appeared when he said: Was not then our heart burning within us in the love of Jesu when he spake with us in the way? Fourthly, his gospel is authorised by authority of many saints. What marvel was it though it were authorised of many, when it was authorised first of the Father? whereof Saint Jerome saith in the thirty-first chapter: Lo, the days shall come, our Lord saith: I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel and of Judah, not after the covenant that I made with their fathers, but this shall be the covenant, saith our Lord: I shall give my law into the bowels of them. And he speaketh plainly to the letter of doctrine of the Gospel. Secondly, it is enforced of the Son, for he saith in the same gospel, the one-and-twentieth chapter: Heaven and earth shall pass and my word shall not perish. Thirdly, he is inspired of the Holy Ghost, whereof Saint Jerome saith in his prologue upon Luke: He wrote this gospel in the parts of Achaia by the admonishment of the Holy Ghost. Fourthly, he was tofore figured of the angels, for he was prefigured of the same angel of whom the apostle saith in the fourteenth chapter of the Apocalypse: I saw the angel flying by the midst of heaven, and had the gospel perdurable. This is said perdurable, for it is made perdurable, that is, of Jesu Christ. Fifthly, the gospel was pronounced of the prophets, that Ezechiel the prophet pronounced tofore this gospel, when he said that one of these beasts should have the face of an ox, wherefore the gospel of Saint Luke is signified as it is said tofore. And when Ezechiel said in the second chapter that he had seen the book that was written without and within, in which was written the lamentation song, by this book is understood the gospel of Luke that is written within for to hide the mystery of profoundness, and without for the showing of the history. In which also be contained the lamentation of the passion, the joy of the resurrection, and the woe of the eternal damnation as it appeareth the eleventh chapter, where many woes be put. Sixthly, the gospel was showed of the virgin. For the blessed Virgin Mary kept and heled diligently all these things in her heart, as it is said, Luce secundo, to the end that she should afterward show them to the writers, as the gloss saith, that all things that were done and said of our Lord Jesu Christ she knew and retained them in her mind. So that when she was required of the writers or of thee preachers of the incarnatio and of all other things, she might express the sufficiently, like as it was done and were in deed. Wherefore Saint Bernard assigned the reason why the angel of our Lord showed to the blessed Virgin the conceiving of Elizabeth. The conceiving of Elizabeth was showed to Mary because of the coming, now of our Saviour, and now of his messenger that came tofore him. The cause why she retained the ordinance of these things was because that she might the better show to writers and preachers the truth of the gospel. This is she that fully from the beginning was instructed of the celestial mysteries, and it is to be believed that the evangelists enquired of her many things, and she certified them truly. And specially that the blessed Luke had recourse to her like as to the ark of the Testament, and was certified of her many things, and especially of such things as appertained to her, as of the salutation of the angel Gabriel, of the nativity of Jesu Christ, and of such other things as Luke speaketh only. Seventhly, the gospel was showed of the apostles. For Luke had not been with Christ in all his acts and miracles, therefore he wrote his gospel after that the apostles that had been present showed and reported to him, like as he showeth in his prologue, saying: Like as they that had seen him from the beginning, and had been ministers with him and heard his words, informed and told to me. And because it is accustomed in double manner to bear witness, it is of things seen and of things heard Therefore saith Saint Austin: Our Lord would have two witnesses of things seen, they were John and Matthew, and two of things heard, and they were Mark and Luke. And because that the witness of things seen be more firm and more certain than of things heard, therefore saith Saint Austin: The two gospels that be of things seen be set first and last, and the others, that be of hearing, be set in the middle, like as they were the stronger and more certain of, and by the other twain. Eighthly, this gospel is marvellously approved of Saint Paul, when he bringeth the gospel of Luke to the confirmation of his sayings and dictes, whereof Saint Jerome saith in the Book of Noble Men, that some men have suspicion that always when Saint Paul saith in his epistles: Secundum Evangelium meum, that is, after my gospel, that is signified the volume of Luke. And he approved his gospel when he wrote of him (Secundo ad Corintheos octavo): Of whom the laud and praising is in the gospel in all the church. It is read in the history of Antioch that the christian men were besieged of a great multitude of Turks, and did to them many mischiefs, and were tormented with hunger and ill hap. But when they were plainly converted to our Lord by penance, a man full of clearness in white vestment appeared to a man that woke tn the church of our Lady at Tripoli, and when he demanded him who he was, he said that he was Luke that came from Antioch, where our Lord had assembled the chivalry of heaven and his apostles for to fight for his pilgrims against the Turks. Then the christian men enhardened themselves and discomfited all the host of the Turks.

Table of Contents | SQPN Contact Author