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Statuary St. Mark

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St. Mark

St Mark the Evangelist, born in Cyrene, North Africa (present day Syria) is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He is one of the Seventy Disciples, and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, one of the original four main Episcopal sees of Christianity. He is the patron saint of barristers, Venice, Egypt and Mainar.

According to William Lane (1974), an "unbroken tradition" identifies Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, and John Mark as the cousin of Barnabas. An exception is found in Hippolytus of Rome, who in his work On the Seventy Apostles, distinguishes Mark the Evangelist (2 Tim 4:11), John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37), and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10; Phlm 24). According to Hippolytus, they all belonged to the "Seventy Disciples" who were sent out by Jesus to saturate Judea with the gospel (Luke 10:1ff.). However, when Jesus explained that his flesh was "real food" and his blood was "real drink", many disciples left him (John 6:44-6:66), presumably including Mark. He was later restored to faith by the apostle Peter; he then became Peter's interpreter, wrote the Gospel of Mark, founded the church of Africa, and became the bishop of Alexandria.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea (Eccl. Hist. 2.9.1-4), Herod Agrippa I in his first year of reign over the whole Judea (AD 41) killed James, son of Zebedee and arrested Peter, planning to kill him after the Passover. Peter was saved miraculously by angels, and escaped out of the realm of Herod (Acts 12:1-19). Peter went to Antioch, then through Asia Minor (visiting the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, as mentioned in 1 Pet 1:1), and arrived in Rome in the second year of Emperor Claudius (AD 42; Eusebius, Eccl, Hist. 2.14.6). Somewhere on the way, Peter picked up Mark and took him as travel companion and interpreter. Mark the Evangelist wrote down the sermons of Peter, thus composing the Gospel according to Mark (Eccl. Hist. 15-16), before he left for Alexandria in the third year of Claudius (43).

In AD 49, about 19 years after the Ascension of Jesus, Mark traveled to Alexandria and founded the Church of Alexandria, which today is part of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Mark himself. He became the first bishop of Alexandria and he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.

According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 2.24.1), Mark was succeeded by Annianus as the bishop of Alexandria in the eighth year of Nero (62/63), probably, but not definitely due to his coming death. Later Coptic tradition says that he was martyred in 68. It is believed that on the night when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane Mark had followed him there and the Temple guards saw him, he ran away and dropped his loincloth.

His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the Winged lion.

Biblical and traditional information

Evidence for Mark the Evangelist's authorship of the Gospel that bears his name originates with Papias. According to D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris, it is "almost certain" that Papias is referring to John Mark. However, some have argued that identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark and Mark the Cousin of Barnabas has led to the downgrading of the character of Barnabas from truly a "Son of Comfort" to one who favored his blood relative over principles.

The identification of Mark the Evangelist with John Mark led to identifying him as the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13).; or as the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52).

The Coptic Church holds the tradition of identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, and holds that he was one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1), as is confirmed by the list of Hippolytus. It also believes that Mark the Evangelist is the one who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus, into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20), and into whose house the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost.

Mark is also believed to be one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine (John 2:1-11), These traditions have no solid proof either from the New Testament or from Church history.

According to the Coptic church, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene, a city in the Pentapolis of North Africa (now Libya). This tradition adds that he returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Saint Paul to Colossae (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; these actually refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and serving with him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria. When Mark returned to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.

Fate of his remains

In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria by two Venetian merchants and taken to Venice, where the Byzantine Theodore of Amasea had previously been the patron saint. A basilica was built there to house the relics.

A mosaic in St Mark's Basilica, Venice depicts sailors covering the relics with a layer of pork. Since Muslims are not allowed to touch pork, this action was done to prevent Muslim intervention in the relics removal.

Copts believe that the head of the saint remained in Alexandria. Every year, on the 30th day of the month of Paopi, the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the commemoration of the consecration of the church of St. Mark, and the appearance of the head of the saint in the city of Alexandria. This takes place inside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, where the saint's head is preserved.

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on April 25.

 

In 1063, during the construction of a new basilica in Venice, St. Mark's relics could not be found. However, according to tradition, in 1094 the saint himself revealed the location of his remains by extending an arm from a pillar. The newfound remains were placed in a sarcophagus in the basilica.

In June 1968, Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria sent an official delegation to Rome to receive a relic of St. Mark from Pope Paul VI. The delegation consisted of ten metropolitans and bishops, seven of whom were Coptic and three Ethiopian, and three prominent Coptic lay leaders.

The relic was said to be a small piece of bone that had been given to the Roman pope by Giovanni Cardinal Urbani, Patriarch of Venice. Pope Paul, in an address to the delegation, said that the rest of the relics of the saint remained in Venice.

The delegation received the relic on June 22, 1968. The next day, the delegation celebrated a pontifical liturgy in the Church of Saint Athanasius the Apostolic in Rome. The metropolitans, bishops, and priests of the delegation all served in the liturgy. Members of the Roman papal delegation, Copts who lived in Rome, newspaper and news agency reporters, and many foreign dignitaries attended the liturgy.

The text in this box was generated from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the CC-BY-SA.

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