Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everything you Wanted to Know about Mark

Today is the Commemoration of St. Mark, Evangelist

St Mark is usually identified with the John Mark of the Book of Acts, a kinsman of Barnabas (Col 4:10). His mother Mary, was a prominent member of the early church and owned the house where the early church gathered for prayer. It was to her house that Peter returned after his release from prayer (Acts 12:12) and some have suggested that this was also the site of the Last Supper.

John Mark accompanied his cousin Barnabas and St. Paul on the first missionary journey. He had a falling out with Paul for some reason and Paul refused to take him on the second journey (acts 15:36-40) Later, however they were reconciled. Paul mentions him as a trusted assistant in Colossians 4:10 and again in 2 Timothy 4:11.

The Apostle Peter had a co-worker whom he refers to as "my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13). Papias, an early second century writer, in describing the origins of the Gospels, tells us that Mark was the "interpreter" of Peter, and that he wrote down ("but not in order") the stories that he had heard Peter tell in his preaching about the life and teachings of Jesus.

Tradition says that Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria and was martyred there in 64 AD. In 829 what was thought to be Mark’s remains were removed from Alexandria to Venice and buried in the famous St. Mark Cathedral.

Mosaic on St. Mark showing how the sailors covered the body 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.

The Coptic Orthodox Church believes that the head of the saint remained in Alexandria. Every year, they celebrate 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.

Mark's symbol in art is a Lion, usually winged. In the book of Revelation, the visionary sees about the throne of God four winged creatures: a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. Traditionally these four creatures were thought to represent the four Evangelists - a winged man because of his human geneology of Jesus and his emphasis on the Incarnation. Mark is a lion because his gospel begins with John the Baptist roaring like a lion. Luke is a winged ox because which represents temple sacrifice and Luke begins with the temple duties of the priest Zacharias, and John is the eagle because he begins with Christ in heaven.

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