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Saint Mark the Evangelist

Saint Mark the Evangelist (Latin: Marcus, Greek: Μᾶρκος, Aramaic: ܡܪܩܘܣ, Coptic : Ⲙⲁⲣⲕⲟⲥ) is the writer of the Gospel of Mark and founder of the Church of Alexandria.

Tradition identifies Saint Mark the Evangelist with Saint John Mark who accompanies Saint Paul and Barnabas on their missionary activities and journeys. Saint Mark was the son of Mary of Jerusalem and her house was a frequent meeting place for the apostles. It is very likely that Saint Mark was in Rome when Saint Paul was martyred. In Saint Peter's letter (1 Peter 5:13), Saint Peter refers to Saint Mark as "his son". Saint Clement, Irenaeus and Papias all believed Saint Mark to be an interpreter for Saint Peter.

The Martyrdom of Saint Mark

According to Coptic Christian tradition, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene. Saint Mark travelled to Alexandria where he served as the first Bishop and founder of the Christian Church in Alexandria. Saint Mark travelled back to Cyrene late in his life and when he returned to Alexandria found the city's populace angry for his attempts to convert them. In AD 68, Saint Mark was swarmed by a large group of angry pagans. They placed a noose around his neck and drug him through the streets until he died.

Relics believed to be the body of Saint Mark were smuggled out of Alexandria (as at the time Alexandria was under the control of the Abbasid Caliphate) by two Venetian merchants assisted by two Greek monks. The relics were covered with a layer of pork and cabbage - since the guards at the port were Islamic and therefore forbidden to eat pork the cargo was not carefully inspected when departing. The Coptic church holds the tradition that the head of Saint Mark is still held in the church named after him in Alexandria. A piece of the relic stored in Venice was given to Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria in June of 1968 when an official delegation was invited to the Vatican by Pope Paul VI.

Saint Mark's Body by Tintoretto

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