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Mark, the Evangelist

				Mark, the Evangelist
Life 7
Humility 7
Works 8
Martyrdom 7
Influence 8

'Translate my relics, babe'

In common with most of the Apostles, almost nothing is known about St Mark apart from what is written in the Gospels. It's not even clear how many Marks there were. It is said that Mark the Evangelist initially lost his faith when Jesus explained the mystery of transubstantiation, before being brought back to the fold by St Peter. He accompanied Peter to Rome, where he served as the great man's secretary, in doing so writing down the sermons that would become the Gospel of Mark. Peter then sent him to convert Egypt, where he founded the Church of Alexandria and eventually met his death at the hands of its people.

Eight centuries later, Mark supplanted Theodore of Amasea as patron saint of Venice, after a bizarre episode in which his bones were stolen from Alexandria and smuggled aboard a ship. There, they were stowed under layers of pork, to prevent local Muslims interfering. The saint's influence guided the sailors safely home in the teeth of a terrible tempest, and his relics were placed in a basilica.

Mark's legend stems mainly from the tireless work he did for others, as Peter's secretary and as a servant of the Lord.

The Gospel of Mark is thought to be the oldest of the three 'synoptic' Gospels, and to have provided much of the source material for Matthew and Luke. Its actual authorship is the subject of much heated debate, but many think it possible that it really originated with the pen of Mark.

No certain account of St Mark's eventual fate survives, but according to the Coptic tradition, he so enraged the pagans of Alexandria that they tied a rope round his neck and dragged him through the streets, all the time singing the praises of the Lord, until he was dead.

As one of Christ's companions, who wrote down his sayings for posterity, Mark is naturally one of the most important saints in all Christian traditions. His emblem is the lion, after an Arab legend concerning the reproductive cycle of that beast.