Saint Mark

St. Mark statueSt. Mark the Evangelist (Latin: Mārcus; Greek: Μᾶρκος; Coptic: Μαρκοϲ; Hebrew: מרקוס‎) is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He started his missionary work as one of the Seventy Disciples, and later became the founder of the Church of Alexandria.

The “Seventy Disciples” were sent out by Jesus to spread the word of the Lord throughout Judea. But it was believed that when Jesus explained that his flesh was “real food” and his blood was “real drink”, Mark and many disciples left as followers (John 6:44–6:66). He was later persuaded to return to the faith by Peter. At this time it is believed he became Peter’s interpreter.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea (Eccl. Hist. 2.9.1–4), during the first year reign of Judea, Herod Agrippa I (AD 41), had the disciple James, son of Zebedee killed and Peter with the plan to have him killed after the Passover. But Peter was miraculously saved by angels, and escaped (Acts 12:1–19) to Antioch taking Mark with him as an interpreter. They then traveled through Asia Minor where they visiting the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Pet 1:1). Eventually they arrived in Rome in the second year of Emperor Claudius (AD 42; Eusebius, Eccl, Hist. 2.14.6). Mark recorded Peter’s sermons, while at the same time composing his version of the Gospel According to Mark (Eccl. Hist. 15–16). After this in the third year of Claudius he left for Alexandria.

Once established in Alexandria Saint Mark founded the Church of Alexandria, part of the Coptic Orthodox Church as it still is today. Mark became the first bishop of Alexandria and he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa. It is interesting that many aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Saint Mark himself.

gospel slug

The Coptic Church holds the tradition that it was Saint Mark who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus where the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20), and into whose house the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost.

Saint Mark is also believed to be present as one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana. It was he 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.

The feast day of Saint Mark is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.

lion carving