The Benedictine monks, who had established themselves in Padua in the Abbey of St. Justina before 1000 AD, started to venerate the remains of the Evangelist with considerable care; around the year 1313 they built a marble sarcophagus within which to place the remains encased in lead. Soon afterwards, in 1354, Emperor Charles IV of Luxemburg, king of Bohemia, acquired the skull, which ended up in the cathedral of St. Vitus in Prague, then capital city of the Empire: it has been conserved there till the present day. In Padua’s abbey, various literary texts were composed – some for liturgical use – intended to strengthen faith in the authenticity of the relics and to divulge the fame of St. Luke. In 1436, the painter Giovanni Storlato was commissioned to portray a series of scenes that relate the life of the saint, the transfer of the relics from the East, and their resurfacing in Padua on the walls of the chapel dedicated to St. Luke.
In 1463, a dispute arose with the Franciscans Minor of St. Job in Venice who contended that they possessed the body of the “authentic” St. Luke, which was transferred to Venice from Bosnia following Ottoman aggression in the Balkans. A careful reconnaissance of both remains ensued, the conclusion of which conferred authenticity to the Paduan relics. A century later, in 1562, when the construction of the actual basilica was nearing completion, the marble sepulchre was transferred with great pomp to the left arm of the transept.
In 1992 Mons. Antonio Mattiazzo, bishop of Padua, received an unexpected request from the Metropolite of Thebes Hieronymos. The latter visited Padua on a pilgrimage to venerate the remains of St. Luke and he asked that “a significant fragment of the relics” should be donated to his Church, “so as to be deposited in the place where the holy sepulchre (empty) of the Evangelist is currently venerated”. Metropolite Hieronymos augured that such a gesture be understood as an ecumenical sign.