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Mark, Saint

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One of the *Four Evangelists, traditionally the author of the Gospel of Mark (composed c.60–70), Mark (or John Mark) is alluded to in the New Testament both in connection with Saint *Paul (as a companion on missionary journeys) and Saint *Peter. The tradition that Peter inspired Mark’s writing or even dictated the Gospel to Mark dates to the early second century, when Mark was referred to as “the interpreter of Peter.” Hence, the two are often shown together in art (e.g., Peter dictating and Mark writing). According to the early Christian historian Eusebius, Mark became the first bishop of Alexandria and was said to have been martyred there, c.67, during the reign of the emperor Nero.

Like the other evangelists, Mark features prominently in art throughout the Middle Ages primarily in his role as an *author, for example, in “portraits” of the evangelists (singly or in groups) prefacing their Gospels in illustrated manuscripts. The evangelists and/or their symbols frequently accompany *Christ in a variety of compositions in all media. Mark’s symbol is a lion because his Gospel begins with a description of a voice “crying in the wilderness” (Mark 1:3) and concludes with a description of the *Resurrection of Christ.


Later legends recount further details of Mark’s ministry and *martyrdom in Alexandria. He was said to have cured a cobbler who had an injured hand; the cobbler (Anianus) converted to Christianity, was baptized by Mark and later became his successor as bishop of Alexandria. Mark was martyred by being dragged through the streets of Alexandria, after Christ had appeared to him in prison. The hailstorm which occurred after his *death sent the pagans fleeing while Christians were able to bury his body. The transportation of his *relics to Venice in the ninth century, as well as several dramatic posthumous *miracles, are also illustrated in art: his rescue of a Christian slave sentenced to execution in Venice, and his *exorcism of *demons (intending to destroy Ven- Page 165  ice) from a boat in a storm—in which miracle he was assisted by Saints *George and *Nicholas. Many of these subjects were illustrated in the twelfth- and thirteenth-century mosaics of the church of San Marco in Venice and appear also in manuscript illustration.

Markham, Dewey "Pigmeat" (1904–1981) [next] [back] Margolis, Bobby - Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Group, Career, Sidelights

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