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The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark

On November 12th (October 30th by the old calendar) the Church commemorates the holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark.

The holy Evangelist Mark, one of the 70 apostles and nephew to Apostle Barnabas, was born in Jerusalem. His mother Marys house was adjacent to the garden of Gethsemane. According to church tradition, during the night of Christs agony St. Mark, enveloping himself in a linen cloth, followed after Him, but ran away after being seized by the soldiers. After the Lords Ascension, St. Marks mothers house became the site of prayer meetings by Christians and a haven for some of the apostles. St. Mark was a close co-worker of the apostles Peter, Paul, and Barnabas. Together with the latter two apostles St. Mark traveled to Seleucia and from then on to the island of Cyprus, which he traversed entirely from the east to the west. In the city of Pathos St. Mark witnessed Apostle Paul striking Elimas the sorcerer with blindness. After his labors with Apostle Paul, St. Mark returned to Jerusalem and afterwards went to Rome together with Apostle Peter; at latters direction he then departed for Egypt, where he founded the Christian Church. During St. Pauls second apostolic travel around the antique world, St. Mark met up with him in Antioch. From there he went on with Apostle Barnabas to preach on the island of Cyprus, and afterwards once again went off to Egypt and Asia Minor, where he founded many churches together with Apostle Peter, including one in the city of Babylon. It was from this city that Apostle Peter sent an epistle to the Christians of Asia Minor, in which he spoke of St. Mark with love and called him his spiritual son.

When Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome, St. Mark made a special point of visiting him there. It was in that city that he wrote his holy Gospel. From Rome St. Mark once again departed for Egypt, and in Alexandria he founded the Christian college which subsequently produced such famous graduates as the Church fathers and teachers St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Dionysius, St. Gregory the Miracle-worker, and others. In his great concern for church services St. Mark also composed a Divine liturgy for the Christians of Alexandria. Afterwards St. Mark visited the inner regions of Africa, spreading the word of the Gospel. During these travels he was commanded by the Holy Spirit to go once again to Alexandria, in order to preach and combat the pagans there. St. Mark settled down in the home of a certain shoemaker by the name of Ananias, whose injured hand he was able to heal. The shoemaker subsequenttly converted to Christianity and was baptized, and his example was followed by many inhabitants of that part of the city in which he lived. This event incited the pagans hate and they gathered together intending to kill St. Mark. Hearing of this, the apostle consecrated Ananias a bishop and ordained three presbyters from among the newly-converted Christians. The pagans attacked St. Mark while he was performing the service. He was beaten up, dragged through the city streets and thrown into prison. There St. Mark was honored by a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who fortified him for his forthcoming suffering.

The next day the enraged crowd once again dragged the holy apostle through the city streets towards the tribunal, but he died along the way with the following words on his lips: Lord, into Thy hands I give up my spirit. The pagans wanted to burn the apostles body, but as soon as they lit a bonfire the skies became dark, thunder was heard, and an earthquake occurred. The pagans ran away in fear, while the Christians buried the saints body in a sepulcher of stone. This was in A.D. 63. In A.D. 310 a church was built over the saints relics. In 829, when Moslem Arabs took over power in Egypt, and infidels pressured the Christian Church, the saints relics were transferred to Venice and placed in the famous cathedral bearing his name.

According to ancient iconographic tradition, which has assigned symbols to the holy Evangelists borrowed from the apocalyptic vision of St. John the Theologian, the Evangelist Mark is depicted with a lion symbol of Christs might and royal dignity. All ancient writers testify to the fact that the Gospel written by Mark is a brief recording of the sermons and narratives of the supreme apostle Peter. One of the central theological themes in the Gospel by St. Mark is the theme of Gods power, which manifests itself in human frailty, because the Lord makes possible that which is impossible for humans.

Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark
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