A Sonnet for St. Luke the Evangelist

St. Luke accompanied by his ‘creature’ the winged ox

Continuing with Sounding the Seasons, my series of sonnets for the church year, here is a sonnet for St. Luke. My sonnets, in that series, prsents the four evangelists together and the imagery in those sonnets is influenced  by the images of the four living creatures round the throne of God and the tradition that each of these creatures represents both an aspect of Christ and one of the Four Evangelists. For a good account of this tradition click here. I am drawing my inspiration both from the opening page image of each Gospel in the Lindesfarne Gospels and also from the beautiful account of the four living creatures given by St. Ireneus, part of which I quote below. For the purpose of my ‘live bloggng’  of the festivals, in the course of this year, here is St. Luke, restored to the chronological sequence. As always you can hear the poem by clicking the ‘play’ button if it appears or clicking on the title of the poem. The photographer Margot Krebs Neale has again provided a thought-provoking photograph to interpret the poem, and the artist Rebecca Merry is in the course of producing four re-interpretations of the traditional illuminated gospel images. The book with these sonnets is being published by Canterbury Press this December and I can announce here that the Book Launch will be here in Cambridge at St. Edwards on December the 5th.

‘...since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit. ‘  St. Irenaeus of Lyons  (ca. 120-202 AD)  –  Adversus Haereses 3.11.8


His gospel is itself a living creature

A ground and glory round the throne of God,

Where earth and heaven breathe through human nature

And One upon the throne sees it is good.

Luke is the living pillar of our healing,

A lowly ox, the servant of the four,

We turn his page to find his face revealing

The wonder, and the welcome of the poor.

He breathes good news to all who bear a burden

Good news to all who turn and try again,

The meek rejoice and prodigals find pardon,

A lost thief reaches paradise through pain,

The voiceless find their voice in every word

And, with Our Lady, magnify Our Lord.

Thanks to Margot Krebs Neale for this image


Filed under christianity, imagination, literature

5 responses to “A Sonnet for St. Luke the Evangelist

  1. Thank you, I especially like this sonnet to St Luke. Credit for the photograph is in fact due to my son Oliver and the boy on the picture, my other son, celebrates his Saints’day today 🙂
    I chose the picture to accompany the words “the voiceless find their voice in every word” Let us remember that Luke is also patron saint of painters and artists, he is an inspiration for those who give expression with pen and paint brush, may they be blessed with such an achievement : the voiceless find their voice.

  2. This is a beautiful sonnet and I love the St Ireneus link.
    Congratulations on your book and good luck with the launch in December. Exciting times !

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Philomena ( beautiful name by the way) glad you liked the sonnet. I’ll be so glad when the whole book finally sees the light of day!

  3. I’m new here, found you through Steve Bell.

    “And with Our Lady magnify the Lord.”

    That was like water. Thank-you.

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