Lifetime:

Sometime during the 1st century - 68 AD in areas that are now Libya, Israel,Palestine, and Egypt

 

Feast Day:

April 25th

 

Patron Saint Of:

Lions, lawyers, notaries, opticians, pharmacists, painters, secretaries, interpreters, prisoners, and people dealing with insect bites

 
 

Introduction to the Life of Saint Mark:

While little is known about either the birth or the death of Saint Mark, the second of the four evangelists makes several important appearances in the New Testament. Known variously as Mark, John Mark, and simply John, Mark is mentioned by name six times in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25;Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37, and Acts 15:39), once in each of three letters of Saint Paul (Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; and Philemon 1:24), and once in the first epistle of Saint Peter (1 Peter 5:13). These references show that Mark was at times a companion to Saint Paul and Barnabas in their travels (and indeed was once the cause of dissension between them, leading Paul and Barnabas to part ways; see Acts 15:39), and an aide to Saint Paul and Saint Peter in Rome. Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, credits Mark with transcribing the sermons of Saint Peter, from which the evangelist then drew the material that forms the Gospel of Mark.

 

Quick Facts:

  • Type of Feast: Feast
  • Readings: 1 Peter 5:5b-14; Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17; Mark 16:15-20
  • Dates: Unknown (Jerusalem?)- 68? (Alexandria, Egypt?)
  • Symbol: Lion; winged lion
  • Patron of: Lawyers, notaries, Venice, Egypt
 

Famous Miracles:

Mark witnessed many of Jesus Christ's miracles, and wrote about some of them in his Gospel book that's included in the Bible.

Many different miracles are attributed to Saint Mark. One that relates to Mark's patronage of lions happened when Mark and his father Aristopolus were walking near the Jordan River and encountered a male and female lion who eyed them with hunger and seemed about to attack them. Mark prayed in Jesus' name that the lions wouldn't harm them, and immediately after his prayer, the lions fell down dead.

After Mark founded the church in Alexandria, Egypt, he took a pair of his shoes to a cobbler named Anianus for repairs.

As Anianus was sewing Mark's shoes, he cut his finger. Then Mark picked up a piece of clay nearby, spit on it, and applied the mixture to Anianus' finger while praying in Jesus' name for it to be healed, and then the wound healed completely. Anianus then asked Mark to tell him and all of his children about Jesus, and after hearing the Gospel message, Anianus and his children all became Christians. Eventually, Anianus became a bishop in the Egyptian church.

People who have prayed to Mark since his death have reported receiving miraculous answers to their prayers, such as healing of illnesses and injuries.

 
 

Biography:

Mark was one of Jesus Christ’s original disciples, and he wrote the Gospel of Mark in the Bible. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, Saint Peter and Mark traveled together to many places in the ancient world, ending up at Rome, Italy. Mark wrote down many of the sermons that Peter delivered in speeches to people during their travels, and historians believe that Mark used some of the content of Peter's speeches in the Gospel book he wrote.

In the Gospel of Mark, Mark describes Saint John the Baptist's voice (which witnesses said sounded like a roaring lion) crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus' ministry, and Mark himself helped deliver the Gospel message to people with boldness, like a lion. So people began associating Saint Mark with lions. Mark is one of the four evangelists that the prophet Ezekiel saw in a miraculous vision of the future many years before Jesus came to Earth; Mark appeared in the vision as a lion.

Mark traveled to Egypt and founded the Coptic Orthodox Church there, bringing the Gospel message to Africa and becoming the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. He served many people there, founding churches and the first Christian school.

In 68 AD, pagans who persecuted Christians captured, tortured, and imprisoned Mark. He reportedly saw visions of angels and heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him before he died. After Mark's death, sailors stole relics from his body and took them to Venice, Italy. Christians honored Mark by building St. Mark's Basilica there.

 

The Life of Saint Mark:

Like Saint Luke, the disciple of Saint Paul and author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Mark was not one of the 12 disciples. Traditions disagree, however, over whether he knew Christ or ever heard him preach. The earliest traditions say that he did not; but a later tradition places him, along with Saint Luke, among the 72 (or 70) disciples sent by Christ in Luke 10:1-20 "into every city and place whither he himself was to come." That tradition is supported by claims that Mark was the young man mentioned by Mark himself (Mark 14:51-52) who, "having a linen cloth cast about his naked body" in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas and the chief priests, scribes, and elders came to arrest Jesus, "casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked" when they attempted to restrain him.

Another tradition says that Mark was one of the disciples who abandoned Christ when He declared that only those who would "eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood" would have life within them (see John 6:51-67). Obviously, if Mark were one of the 72 and did abandon Christ at that point, he would have had to be reconciled with Him later in order to be the young man in the Garden of Gethsemane, and this tradition says that Saint Peter himself brought Mark back to Christ.

While a Coptic tradition places Mark's birth in Cyrene, part of the eastern coastal region of modern-day Libya, he was more likely a Jew from Jerusalem, where his mother was a prominent member of the Church in its early days. When the angel delivered Saint Peter from imprisonment at the hands of Herod, Peter went straight to the house of Mark's mother, Mary (see Acts 12:12). Likewise, Mark is sometimes referred to as a Levite—that is, a member of the Jewish priestly caste—because he was the cousin of Barnabas (see Colossians 4:10), who was a Levite. His relationship to Barnabas undoubtedly explains his travels with Saint Paul and Barnabas, as well as Barnabas's decision to abandon Saint Paul when Saint Paul refused to take Saint Mark on his second apostolic journey (see Acts 15:37-40). Saint Peter regarded Mark as very close to himself, referring to him as his "son" (1 Peter 5:13), which may even mean that Peter himself baptized Mark.

While Mark had refused to travel into Asia Minor with Saint Paul on his first journey (leading to Saint Paul's refusal to take Saint Mark on his second journey into Asia Minor), he apparently did evangelize in Asia Minor at some point, since 1 Peter is addressed to the churches of Asia Minor, and Peter speaks of Mark therein as if the members of those churches would know him (see 1 Peter 5:13). After assisting Peter and Paul in Rome, where he wrote his gospel, Saint Mark, tradition says, founded the Church in Alexandria, and the original liturgy of that church is named after him. The date and manner of his death are uncertain, but the fourth century "Acts of Mark" declares that he was martyred in Alexandria by being dragged through the streets, and Coptic tradition places his martyrdom in the year 68. In any case, his relics were preserved in Alexandria until 828, when Venetian merchants, desiring to protect the relics from the Muslims who then controlled Alexandria, smuggled them out under a layer of pork (with the exception of Saint Mark's head, which remains in Alexandria). The bulk of Saint Mark's relics remain to this day in the magnificent Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice, built on the site of the original church erected to house the evangelist's relics.

Saint Mark's feast is celebrated on April 25 in both the Western and Eastern Churches, though the Eastern Churches also celebrate a feast of John Mark on September 27. Traditional iconography represents Saint Mark as a lion in the wilderness, in honor of his reference to John the Baptist as the "voice of one crying in the desert" (Mark 1:3).

The Gospel of Saint Mark:

Luke's gospel shares many details with Saint Mark's, but whether they share a common source, or whether Mark himself (whom Saint Paul mentions each time he mentions Luke) was Luke's source, is a subject of debate. Luke's gospel is the longest (by word count and by verse), and it contains six miracles, including the healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:12-19) and of the high priest's servant's ear (Luke 22:50-51), and 18 parables, including the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), and the Publican and Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14), that are found in none of the other gospels.

The narrative of the infancy of Christ, found in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Luke's gospel, is the primary source of both our images of Christmas and the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Luke also provides the most coherent and comprehensive account of Christ's journey toward Jerusalem (beginning in Luke 9:51 and ending in Luke 19:27), culminating in the events of Holy Week (Luke 19:28 through Luke 23:56).

 


Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
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