Saint of the Day ~ April 25

SAINT MARK (?-c.70), Evangelist and martyr – Patron saint of attorneys, notaries and Venice, Italy

Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feastday of Saint Mark the Evangelist. Most of what we know about Saint Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark whom we find in the Acts of the Apostles.

Mark, Jewish by birth and sometimes referred to as John Mark, was a cousin of Barnabas. He accompanied Saint Paul on his first missionary journey and later went with him to Rome. He was a disciple of Saint Peter, whose teaching was the basis for Mark’s Gospel, including other oral and possibly written sources.

The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, it was probably written after the death of Peter and Paul sometime after 60 A.D. The Gospel of Mark was written primarily for the Gentile communities, guiding the reader and listener into a better understanding of the human Nature of Christ. Focusing upon the humanity of the Messiah, Mark emphasized the suffering Servant and His rejection by the Jewish authorities, all the while being God’s triumphant Son.

Mark stressed Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God now dawning upon the human scene as Good News, and Jesus Himself as the Gospel [the Good News] of God; and, it is Jesus as the Son of Man and Son of the Eternal Father whom God has sent to rescue humanity by serving and ministering to their needs and by sacrificing His life as the unblemished Lamb.

Near the end of Mark’s Gospel, there is the scene of the empty tomb and the message given by an angel to the holy women who came to the tomb, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here” (Mark 16:6).

Like one other Gospel writer, Luke, Mark was not one of the Twelve Apostles. We cannot be certain whether he even knew Jesus personally. There are some scholars who feel that the Evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus 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).

Others believe Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt; and legend tells us that, after his return from Rome, Mark was eventually martyred in Alexandria by being dragged through the streets of the city about the year 70 A.D. Venice, Italy, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint. The large basilica located there is believed to contain his remains.

A winged lion is Saint Mark’s symbol. The lion is derived from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3a), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures which are applied to each of the Evangelists (Ezekiel 1:5-10).

We celebrate the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist on April 25.

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(The following prayer is from the Collect of the Roman Missal from the Proper for Saint Mark, Evangelist)

“O God, who raised up Saint Mark, Your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ.

“Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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