What Caused the Apostle Luke’s Death?

The circumstances of Saint Luke’s death are disputed by biblical scholars. Most Catholic academics believe he died in Greece at the age of 84, but many Orthodox scholars believe he was martyred after Saint Paul’s death.

Despite early Christian writers’ assertions that Saint Luke was martyred, the earliest sources available to the church show that the apostle settled in Greece, wrote his gospel, and died quietly in Boeotia at the age of 84.

According to Orthodox Church tradition, after the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Saint Luke proclaimed the gospel, gaining the attention of pagan and Jewish residents. These people allegedly informed Nero, the Roman Emperor, that he was practising sorcery. Nero responded by dispatching Saint Luke, who had enough time before the audience to deliver his books to a local fisherman.

Nero is said to have severed his right hand, which Saint Luke miraculously reattached to his body before separating it again. While this pleased the Emperor’s cabinet, who then declared faith in Christ, Nero retaliated by decapitating them all, including Saint Luke, and casting his body into the sea.

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Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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