Saint Luke, Archbishop of Crimea and Simferopol

Commemorated on June 11

Valentin Felixovich (Voyno-Yasenetsky), was born on April 14, 1877 in Kerch, and was the third of five children. Valentin’s father, Felix Stanislavovich, was a Roman Catholic and a pharmacist by profession. His mother, Maria Dmitrievna, was an Orthodox Christian.

According to the mores of that time in Russia concerning the upbringing of children of mixed marriages, Valentin’s personality was formed in keeping with Orthodox traditions. His father did not object, nor did he impose his own beliefs on his son. His mother taught him the basic tenets of the Orthodox Church.

In 1889, the Voyno-Yasenetsky family moved to Kiev. There, with God’s help, Valentin graduated from two educational institutions: the gymnasium and an art school.

Thinking about choosing a career, he had two options: to become an artist or a doctor. As he was about to enter the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, he changed his mind and decided to devote his energies to medicine. His most important consideration was his desire to alleviate people’s suffering. Furthermore, he believed that he would benefit society more as a doctor.

In 1898, Valentin entered the University of Kiev, the Facultet of Medicine. He studied well, as befits a person who has made a deliberate choice regarding his future profession. He graduated from the University in 1903. A promising career lay ahead of him, of which many of his less talented peers could only dream. But to everyone’s surprise, he announced that he wanted to become a doctor for the poor.

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Valentin went to the Far East with other doctors to serve in the activities of the Red Cross detachment. There he headed the Department of Surgery at the hospital of the Kiev Red Cross, and was deployed in Chita. In this position, Valentin acquired a great deal of medical experience.

During the same period, he met and was attracted to a Sister of Mercy, a kind and gentle Christian, Anna Lanskaya. By that time, she had turned down proposals from two doctors, and wanted a life of celibacy. But Valentin managed to win her heart. In 1904, the young couple were married in the local church at Chita. Over a period of time, Anna became a faithful assistant to her husband, not only in family matters, but also in his medical practice.

After the war, Valentin fulfilled his long-standing desire to become a doctor for poor people. In the period from 1905 to 1917 he worked for a year in urban and rural hospitals in different regions of the country: in Simbirsk province, then in Kursk, Saratov, the territory of Ukraine, and finally, in Pereslavl-Zalessky.

In 1908, Valentin arrived in Moscow and got a job in the surgical clinic of P. Dyakonov as a student. In 1916 he wrote, and successfully defended, his doctoral dissertation. The work turned out to be so important and relevant, and its content so deep and elaborate, that one of the scientists in compared it to the singing of a bird. At that time, the University of Warsaw honored Valentin with a special prize.

The first years after the October Revolution were very bloody. During that difficult time, the state had a special need for medical workers. So, despite his commitment to his faith, Valentin was not persecuted.

From 1917 to 1923 he lived in Tashkent, worked in the New City Hospital as a surgeon. He willingly shared his experience with his students, and taught at a medical school (later reorganized into a medical facultet).

In 1919 his beloved wife died from tuberculosis, leaving their four children without a mother’s care, which was a severe trial for Doctor Voyno-Yasenetsky, but he never remarried.

In 1920, Valentin accepted an offer to head the department at the Turkestan State University, which had recently opened in Tashkent.

During this period, in addition to his official and family duties, Valentin took an active part in Church life, and attended meetings of the Tashkent brotherhood. Once, after he presented a successful report at the Church congress, Bishop Innocent of Tashkent told him that he wanted him to become a priest. Valentin, who had never thought about following such a path, replied that he would agree, if it was pleasing to God.

In 1921 he was ordained a deacon, and a few days later he was ordained as a priest. Father Valentin was assigned to a church in Tashkent, where he served and pleased God. At the same time, he did not give up his medical practice or his teaching.

In 1923, Father Valentin, moved by zeal and piety, was tonsured as a monk. At first, Bishop Andrew (Ukhtomsky) of Ufa intended to name him Panteleimon, in honor of the Unmercenary Physician; but then, after listening to his sermons, he changed his mind and chose the name of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. So Father Valentin became Hieromonk Luke.

That same year, the renovationist “Living Church” movement reached Tashkent. For a number of reasons, Bishop Innocent left the city without appointing anyone to replace him. In this difficult time for the clergy and the flock, Father Valentin and Father Michael Andreev made every effort to unite the local clergy, and even took part in the organization of the congress (sanctioned by the Г.П.У).

At the end of May, Hieromonk Luke was secretly consecrated as Bishop of Penjikent, and a few days later, he was arrested because of his support for Patriarch Tikhon. Today the charges against him seem not only far-fetched, but also absurd: the authorities accused him of a counter-revolutionary connection with some Orenburg Cossacks, in cooperation with the British.

Saint Luke languished in the dungeon of the Tashkent GPU for some time, and then he was taken to Moscow. Soon he was allowed to live in a private apartment, but then he was taken into custody again: first in Butyrka prison, and then to Taganskaya. Then the sufferer was sent into exile to Yeniseisk.

In Yeniseisk, he served at home. In addition, he was allowed to operate, and he saved the health of more than one resident. Several times the Saint was transferred from one place to another. But even there he used every opportunity to serve God and to heal people.

After the end of his exile, Bishop Luke returned to Tashkent and served in the local church. But the Soviet authorities were not going to leave the Bishop alone. In May of 1931, he was subjected to another arrest and spent several months in prison, Then he was exiled to Arkhangelsk for a period of three years. At Arkhangelsk was also treating patients.

In 1934, upon his return from prison, he visited the city of Tashkent, and then settled in Andijan. There he performed his duties as a bishop and a doctor. A fever caused some misfortune for him: the loss of his sight. The Saint went to surgery (as a patient), and as a result, he became blind in one eye.

In December 1937, he was arrested again. The Saint was interrogated for several days in a row, demanding that he sign certain protocols prepared in advance by the investigation. He went on a hunger strike, flatly refusing to sign what his Christian conscience could not accept.. A new sentence followed, and a new exile, this time to Siberia.

From 1937 to 1941, the convicted Hierarch lived in the town of Bolshaya Murta, in Krasnoyarsk Territory. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), he was relocated to Krasnoyarsk and was involved in treating the wounded.

In 1943 the Saint ascended to the Krasnoyarsk Archiepiscopal cathedra, and a year later he was appointed as the Archbishop of Tambov and Michurinsk. During this period, the attitude of the authorities toward the Saint seemed to have changed. In February 1946, he was awarded the Stalin Prize for scientific developments in the field of medicine.

In May 1946, Saint Luke was made Archbishop of Crimea and Simferopol. At this time his eye disease progressed, and in 1958 he became completely blind. However, as eyewitnesses recall, the Saint not only did not lose his courage, nor did he lose the ability to come to church on his own, to venerate shrines, and to participate in the Divine Services.

On May 29/June 11, 1961, the Lord called Saint Luke to His heavenly Kngdom. He was buried in the Simferopol cemetery.

On November 22, 1995, Archbishop Luke of Simferopol and Crimea was numbered among the locally venerated Saints of the Crimea. His relics were transferred to Holy Trinity Cathedral in Simferopol (March 17–20, 1996). At the last Memorial Service, His Eminence Bishop Lazarus, Archbishop of Simferopol and the Crimea noted: “For the first time on the Crimean land there is an event of exceptional importance. The radiant personality of Archbishop Luke seems to us today as a saving beacon, toward which each of us must direct our gaze.”

On March 20, 1996, Saint Luke’s relics were transferred to Holy Trinity church in Simferopol. A piece was also given to Sagmata Monastery in Greece, and throughout the world, where they continue to work countless miracles.

An estimated 40,000 people participated in the Cross Procession from the grave to the cathedral. In Simferopol and in the Crimean Diocese, the glorification of Saint Luke of Crimea took place on May 24-25, 1996. It is said that an ineffable fragrance emanated from his relics, and his heart was discovered incorrupt – a testament to his great love for Christ and for his neighbor.

In 2000, at the Jubilee Council of Bishops, Saint Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky) was glorified as one of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia for Church-wide veneration. He is commemorated on May 29/June 11 (His blessed repose), as well as on January 25/ February 7, together with the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (Movable Feast), and on December 15/ 28 (Synaxis of the Crimean Saints).

In the park at Simferopol, a monument was placed in honor of Saint Luke. In the bishop’s house, where Saint Luke lived and worked from 1946 to 1961, there is a chapel. The Greek faithful, in gratitude for being healed of their ailments, by the prayers of Saint Luke, donated 300 kilograms of silver to make a reliquary for his relics.

The contest (podvig) of Saint Luke was a contest of remaining steadfast in the Orthodox Faith during that troubled time of obvious and hidden rebirths, and it is particularly relevant now. Today many of us will say with hope and love: “Holy Hierarch Luke, pray to God for us!”

Saint Luke, Archbishop of Crimea and Simferopol was last modified: November 27th, 2023 by Deacon Kirill