Mark the Evangelist is traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Saint Mark and a companion of Peter. With his cousin Barnabas, he also accompanied Saint Paul in his first journey. After a sharp dispute, Barnabas separated from Paul, taking Mark to Cyprus (Acts chapter 15). Later, Paul calls upon the services of Mark when he became known as Saint Paul’s fellow worker. Mark is believed to be the first patriarch of the Alexandria by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church, and thus the founder of Christianity in Africa.
Mark’s mother was a prominent member of the earliest group of Christians in Jerusalem and it was to her home that Peter turned on his return from prison. The house was a meeting place for the brethren, many of whom were praying there on the night that Peter returned (Acts chapter 12).
A number of traditions have built up around Saint Mark, though none can be verified through the New Testament. It is suggested that Mark was one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana, who poured water that Jesus turned into wine (John chapter 2). In Egypt, Mark the Evangelist is said to have performed many miracles, and established the Coptic Orthodox Church there. He appointed a bishop, Anainus of Alexandria, three priests and seven deacons. When Mark returned to Alexandria, the people there are said to have resented his efforts to turn them away from the worship of their traditional Egyptian gods.
On 25th April 68AD, they killed him and tried to burn his body. Afterwards, the Christians in Alexandria removed his unburned body from the ashes, wrapped it and then buried it in the north-easterly corner of the Church that they had built.
In 828AD, relics believed to be the body of Saint Mark were stolen from Alexandria by Italian sailors and were taken to Venice, where Saint Nicholas, the patron of sailors, had previously been the principal saint who was venerated. A basilica was built there to house the relics of Saint Mark but during construction the relics were lost. According to tradition, however, Mark himself revealed the location of the ashes by extending an arm from a pillar. The newfound remains were placed in a sarcophagus in the Basilica.
Saint Mark is the patron saint of barristers and of the Diocese of Venice.
His evangelistic symbol is the winged lion