SAINTS

APRIL 25: ST. MARK THE EVANGELIST

(Died 68 AD)

Mark was the son of Mary of Jerusalem who provided a place in her home for the Apostles to meet. He also was the cousin of St. Barnabas.

He was the writer of one of the four Gospels even though he never knew Jesus personally and was not one of the original Apostles. Some believe Mark was likely speaking of himself when he wrote the description of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.” (Mark 14:51-52)

St. Peter referred to Mark as his “son,” probably indicating his affection or that it was he who baptized Mark. It is believed that from this relationship Mark gained the knowledge to write his Gospel. Furthermore, it is believed Mark provided Luke and Matthew with basic sources for their Gospels.

Mark was with St. Paul and Barnabas when they traveled as missionaries to Antioch in 44 AD. When the group reached Cyprus, Christian tradition holds that Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem, possibly because he was missing his home (Acts 13:13). This incident may have caused Paul to question whether Mark could be a reliable missionary. This created a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas and led Paul to refuse Mark’s accompaniment on their second journey to the churches of Cilicia and the rest of Asia Minor. Later, when Paul was in prison in Rome, the two seemed to have buried the hatchet after the younger man visited his mentor there.

Mark founded the Church in Egypt and he became bishop of Alexandria, an important center of trade and power during ancient times. He died there sometime between the years 68-74 AD as a martyr for his belief in Jesus.

St. Mark’s symbol is a winged lion. This is believed to be derived from his description of St. John the Baptist, as “a voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3). The wings come from Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures as the evangelists.

In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria (at the time controlled by the Abbasid Caliphate) by two Venetian merchants with the help of two Greek monks and taken to Venice. A mosaic in St Mark’s Basilica depicts sailors covering the relics with a layer of pork and cabbage leaves. Since Muslims are not permitted to eat pork, this was done to prevent the guards from inspecting the ship’s cargo too closely. Today, Mark is one of the patron saints of Venice.

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: Online, C. (n.d.). St. Mark – Saints & Angels. Catholic Online. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=305 and Mark the Evangelist | Saints Resource. (n.d.). Saints Resource. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from http://saintsresource.com/mark-the-evangelist/