St. Mark was an Evangelist or one of the first Gospel writers, in fact, as St. Peter preached, St. Mark was a pioneer in Gospel writing as he wrote down what he saw and what he heard. The people of Rome were so enthralled with St. Peter’s message, that they begged St. Mark to write about Jesus’ life. His is the shortest and oldest of the Gospels. It contains both oral and written traditions concerning the words and deeds of Jesus. He is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was captured.(Mark 14: 51-52) Like St. Luke, Saint Mark was not one of the original apostles. He was born about fifteen years after Jesus. After Jesus was crucified, he began to follow St. Peter. He even traveled with him to Rome, and they became close friends, as Mark served as St. Peter’s interpreter. When St. Peter preached, he often referred to St. Mark as his son.
Mark’s gospel was written for both the Jewish and the Gentile Christians. Yet more for the Gentile audience as there are several times when he provides great detail and description of a Jewish custom, that would need no explanation if he was writing specifically to the Jewish people. The main target audience of Mark’s writing were Roman citizens who were suffering fierce persecutions under a deranged Emperor Nero. He wished that the Roman believers would be encouraged to remain faithful during their time of trails. He presented the message of Jesus’s suffering, because he wished that once man learned of the immense sacrifice that was made for them by Jesus, that they could unite themselves to the Cross of Christ, and therefore share in His redemption.
His Gospel is a great contribution to the Church, many believed that Saint Peter’s authority stood behind the second Gospel. Some even referred to St. Mark as the ‘interpreter’ of St. Peter. Ultimately though, when St. Mark wrote this second Gospel, his intention was to proclaim the ‘Good News’ of Christ and spread Jesus’ message through the lands. He wanted to set the world on fire with love of Jesus…through all of the world’s people….He wrote the gospel to tell the world about Jesus, “Go therefore into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation. The man that believes and is baptized will be saved, but woe to the man who does not believe, he will be condemned.” ( Mark 16: 15-16)
Saint Mark the Evangelist is often pictured with a winged lion. It has become his symbol, because when he set about to write the Gospel, he started with the story of Saint John the Baptist and the description he gave to the sound of Saint John’s voice roaring like a lion in the wilderness…There is also a story, that at one time he was thrown to the lions and the lions did not attack, instead they lay at his feet, tame. The lion imagery also appeared in a vision of the Prophet Ezekiel…in which he saw four creatures representing the four evangelists. Matthew is pictured as a human, Mark as a lion, Luke appears as a bull and John is shown as an eagle. (Ezekiel 1 :10)
Saint Mark then went and lived in Alexandria Egypt, where he founded the Church of Alexandria. It is here that his disciples spread Christianity and became the wonder of the world, known for their piety and their abandonment of earthly goods. It is here too, that St. mark set up the first Christian school, which became the fruitful mother of many renowned doctors and bishops. After living and governing in the land for many years, Saint Mark was captured one day by heathens who resented his works. They tied the saint and bound him with a rope. He was then drug through the streets of Alexandria, over the rocky roads for hours. At the end of the first day, he was still breathing so the group of heathens tossed his battered body into a prison. That night in prison he was visited by a group of angels and the voice of Jesus comforted him and gave him the courage he needed. The next morning they retrieved his battered body again tied him in ropes and continued the horrible torture of dragging his body through the streets for all to see. Saint Mark’s spirit endured until his body could no longer survive and finally, he went to enjoy his eternal reward in heaven.
His relics were translated to Venice in 466, although the Italian government returned many of the relics to Egypt in the mid 1900’s.
O Almighty God, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly doctrines of thy Evangelist Saint Mark; Give us grace, that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of thy holy Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.