Tashkent, Uzbekistan, June 1, 2023
100 years ago, St. Luke of Simferopol, one of the most beloved saints throughout the Orthodox Church today, was consecrated as a hierarch of the Orthodox Church.
The anniversary was festively celebrated beginning on May 29 in Penjikent, Tajikistan, where the Holy Hierarch was consecrated in 1923, reports the Diocese of Tashkent and Uzbekistan of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and several other hierarchs and clerics. Met. Vikenty noted that it was in Penjikent where St. Luke received the grace of the episcopacy, having secretly come to see the hierarchs exiled there. St. Luke knew the episcopal cross would be heavy to bear, Met. Vikenty said, “but he did it because he wanted to preserve the Orthodox faith, he wanted to protect the Orthodox faith in our Central Asian land.”
The next day, a conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of St. Luke’s consecration was held at the Tashkent State Dental Institute, discussing his achievements as both a doctor and a Holy Hierarch.
Yesterday, May 31, the 100th anniversary itself was celebrated with the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Dormition Cathedral in Tashkent. Met. Vikenty was joined by His Grace Bishop Nestor of Yalta, vicar of the Crimean Diocese, and His Grace Bishop Savvaty of Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan.
Met. Vikenty preached about the labors of St. Luke and the current situation in Ukraine:
We remember a special event for our Church, for our diocese. 100 years ago, when St. Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky), being a priest of our diocese, accepted both monasticism and the holy rank of bishop with the title of Tashkent and Turkestan. Those were very difficult, mournful times. And at this difficult time, St. Luke decides to become a bishop. He was the current chief physician of the Tashkent City Hospital and at the same time a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, a bishop of our Church. It’s very important to realize that he took priestly and episcopal orders at a very difficult time.
Now we ordain priests and bishops and this is joy and triumph, this is the great mercy of God. But then, when the Church was persecuted, when the clergy were exiled and killed for being priests of the Russian Church, and even more so bishops who were persecuted and exiled to distant places, were killed, at this time a successful surgeon, the chief physician of the Tashkent City Hospital decides to become the Bishop of Tashkent and Turkestan. This is a great feat, this is a great work, this is a sacrifice for Christ, for God, for faith, for the Church of Christ, in order to preserve the faith of Christ in our diocese.
At that time, churches were closed, destroyed, priests were exiled and imprisoned. There was Renovationism, there was a schism in our Church, like the schism that now exists in Ukraine. Its “deacons,” “priests,” and “bishops” weren’t even lawfully ordained. But they were supported by the Soviet government. It’s the same situation now in Ukraine, when many self–consecrated “bishops” and “priests” were ordained at a very high level for political reasons—then and now in Ukraine.
The Soviet government was on the side of the Renovationists, because it wanted to destroy the Orthodox Church from within. And now the same thing is being done in Ukraine—the canonical Church is being destroyed, but the renovationist, graceless one remains.
St. Luke deeply understood the meaning of this situation, understood that the Church was in grave danger, destruction, and the interruption of the grace of the Apostolic ministry. It’s very important. Therefore, he makes such a decision to go to Penjikent, where there were two legitimate bishops in exile, to receive the grace of the succession of the Apostolic ministry, so that it might not be interrupted, so that he could convey to people the truth, the true Orthodox faith and piety.
He made the right decision, and we’re grateful to him for keeping faith and true piety in our Church. He did a lot of work, held debates with the Renovationists. At every public meeting, he denounced them and showed their deception, the evil they were trying to bring to the Church. These Renovationists were crushed by the words of St. Luke. He could firmly and powerfully explain and prove what was actually being done. People understood that. Thank God, they obeyed him.
Following the Liturgy, a moleben was served on the cathedral square at the monument to St. Luke.
Later that day, memorial prayers were offered at the graves of St. Luke’s wife, daughter, and granddaughter.