St. Mark the Evangelist is an important figure in the Christian tradition, author of the second Gospel and disciple of St. Peter.
This article presents 10 fun facts about St. Mark that will help deepen your knowledge and appreciation of this fascinating saint, whose feast the Church celebrates on April 25.
1) Cousin of St. Barnabas
According to tradition, St. Mark, also called John Mark, was a cousin of St. Barnabas, an influential leader in the early Church and companion of St. Paul on his missionary journeys. (Col. 4:10)
2) The house of Saint Mark
St. Mark’s house in Jerusalem is believed to be the site of the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and also the place where the disciples gathered after the Resurrection (Acts 12:12).
3) Disciple of St. Peter
Christian tradition holds that Saint Mark was a disciple of Saint Peter and that his Gospel was based on the apostle’s teachings and testimonies.
4) The shortest gospel
The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the four gospels, with only 16 chapters. It is believed to have been written around 65-70 AD.
5) First gospel written
Many scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the four gospels to be written, serving as the basis for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
6) The winged lion:
The iconography of Saint Mark is often represented by a winged lion, symbol of Christ’s royalty and resurrection. This symbol is inspired by the book of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse.
7) Founder of the Church in Egypt:
Saint Mark is considered the founder of the Church in Egypt, specifically the Coptic Orthodox Church. He would have been the first bishop of Alexandria, where, according to tradition, he suffered martyrdom around AD 68.
8) Relics in Venice:
The relics of St. Mark were supposedly taken from Alexandria to Venice in 828 AD and deposited in St. Mark’s Basilica, built especially to house them.
9) Patron Saint of Venice:
Saint Mark is the patron saint of Venice, and his figure is closely associated with the city’s history and identity. The winged lion of Saint Mark is an iconic symbol of Venice and is found on many of the city’s buildings and monuments.
10) St. Mark and the Young Early Church:
St. Mark played a crucial role in the young early Church, not only as an evangelist, but also as a traveling companion to St. Paul and St. Barnabas on their missions.
The Acts of the Apostles reports that there was a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas about taking Mark on a missionary journey, due to Mark’s earlier desertion (Acts 15:36-41).
However, later, St. Paul recognized the value of St. Mark and asked for his presence in his prison in Rome, showing that the relationship between them was restored (2 Timothy 4,11).
This highlights the humanity of early Church leaders and how they overcame challenges and disagreements in their mission to spread the Gospel.
Saint Mark the Evangelist is a complex and multifaceted figure in the Christian tradition.
Knowing these facts about his life, work and legacy helps us better understand the context and motivations behind his Gospel and appreciate the lasting impact of his contribution to the Christian faith.
As we reflect on the stories and symbols associated with St. Mark, we are invited to deepen our own faith and explore the mysteries of Jesus’ life and his message of salvation to the world.