A Reliquary for St. Luke: a Unique Order Made by the Workshop of St. Elisabeth Convent

“And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood… make for it a grate of network of brass.” (Exodus 27:1,3)

It was God who planted the feeling of liturgical beauty and the splendor of the House of God into the hearts of people since the Old Testament Tabernacle times. Christians have always lifted up their hearts in common prayer and wanted to decorate their churches with the best that nature and human craftsmanship can offer.

The Rev. Paolo Ferrazzo, an Italian priest and a rector of one of the biggest and the most vibrant parishes in Venice in honor of St. James, son of Zebedee, asked us at St. Elisabeth Convent to make a worthy reliquary for the right hand of Apostle Luke, which is preserved in his parish.
Rev. Paolo Ferrazzo
The relics of Apostle Luke are known to have been stored in a Benedictine abbey in honor of Holy Martyr Justina in Padua since the 8th century. They were likely transferred there from Constantinople during the iconoclastic crisis. However, the city of Padua came under the rule of the Republic of Venice in the early 15th century. Venetians, noted for their appreciation of holy relics, moved the right hand of the Apostle and Evangelist Luke into one of their city churches, where it remains until today.

The Rev. Paolo Ferrazzo wrote to the Catalog of the Good Deeds, “Our old glass reliquary was broken during a hurricane. I’d like to have a reliquary that the Evangelist deserves.” He also ordered a smaller reliquary for a small particle of relics.

Our Non-Ferrous Metals Workshop set out to work and soon enough, they finished both reliquaries. God willing, the reliquaries will soon arrive in Venice, in the parish of Holy Apostle James, son of Zebedee. The honorable relics of the great Apostle and Evangelist Luke, the “beloved doctor” (cf. Colossians 4:14), will be preserved in the magnificent reliquary made by our craftspeople.

Father Ferrazzo had ordered a painted icon of Christ the Pantocrator from us in the past. He knows that there is an Icon Painting Studio in St. Elisabeth Convent for more than a decade now. That is why, on behalf of his parish and with the blessing of his diocesan bishop, he decided to endow our Convent with a particle of the relics of Holy Apostle Luke who, according to the Church tradition, painted the first icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and is therefore remembered as the heavenly patron of all icon painters.

That was how, relishing the opportunity to venerate the holy apostle by making a reliquary for his holy relics—which is already a great honor for us—we unexpectedly received this sacred object as a gift. May the Apostolic blessing of Evangelist Luke, the tireless companion of Holy Apostle Paul, reside upon our Convent! May his holy relics and his prayerful intercession inspire our icon painters in their hard but blessed and God-pleasing work of creating amazingly profound Orthodox icons, revealing the celestial beauty to the world, and calling everyone into the Kingdom of Christ!

By John Nichiporuk, 

a Bachelor of Theology, 
specialized in Biblical Studies.
The Catalog Of Good Deeds, 2018