Died At Age: 63
Also Known As: Saint Mark the Evangelist
Born Country: Libya
Born in: Cyrene, Pentapolis of North Africa, according to Coptic tradition
Famous as: Author
Spiritual & Religious Leaders
mother: Saint Mary
Died on: April 25, 68
place of death: Cyrene, Libya, Pentapolis (North Africa), now Shahhat, Jabal al Akhdar, Libya
Cause of Death: Execution
Who was Mark the Evangelist?
Mark the Evangelist was one of the first original disciples of Jesus Christ. He is best remembered as the author of the ‘Gospel of Mark’ in the ‘Bible.’ He is also believed to be the founder of the ‘Church of Alexandria,’ one of the most important episcopal sees of early Christianity. He, along with another disciple of Jesus, Saint Peter, preached spirituality and delivered sermons all around the world after the death of Jesus. He is known to be the patron saint of Lions, lawyers, pharmacists, prisoners, and secretaries. People began to associate Mark’s boldness to that of a Lion after he delivered the Gospel message of Saint John the Baptist, which he received from Jesus and conveyed the same to Mark in the voice of the Lion in the wilderness. Mark was the primary witness of many miracles that took place at the time of Jesus Christ. He also mentioned a few in his Gospel. He was also the founder of the first Christian school in Egypt. He continued serving humanity until his death after he was tortured and imprisoned around 68 AD.
Early Life & Childhood
As per records, Mark was born in or around 5 AD in Cyrene, Pentapolis of North Africa. Aristopolus was believed to be his father. His mother’s home was believed to be in Jerusalem and it served as a centre for Christian life. According to the American New Testament theologian and professor of Biblical studies, William Lane, Mark the Evangelist identifies with John Mark.
He is also identified as the cousin of Barnabas, one of the first prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem. It was also believed that he was one of the ‘Seventy Disciples’ sent out by Jesus Christ.
Many also reckoned that he was the man who carried water to the house where the ‘Last Supper’ took place. Amongst his many possible identities, he was considered to be the man who ran naked when Jesus was arrested.
However, there aren’t enough records in history to confirm any of these.
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There isn’t a lot of information about his youth life. However, it was found in early records that Mark left his hometown to follow Saint Paul.
Later, he joined Saint Peter and worked as a missionary with him. He was also known to have accompanied Barnabus to Antioch and work with him as well. Saint Peter used to be a fisherman, but soon was on the mission to find the Church.
According to ‘Eusebius of Caesarea,’ Peter was arrested by Herod Agrippa in 41 AD to be executed after the ‘Passover.’ However, Peter was miraculously saved by angels and escaped to Antioch.
He then, travelled to various churches in Pontus, Galatia, Asia, and Cappadocia before finally arriving in Rome. At Rome, he met Saint Mark and made him his travel companion.
There is no connecting timeline about Mark’s life before meeting Peter. He traveled with Paul in Asia Minor in one event but at the same time, there were instances of him traveling with Barnabas. He met Peter and worked as his interpreter. He also wrote the Gospel based on many sermons delivered by Peter, as per ‘Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis.’
After the ‘Ascension of Jesus,’ Peter and Mark dedicated their lives to deliver sermons of Christianity and spirituality across the world. Around 49 AD, Mark went to Alexandria, Egypt, and founded the ‘Church of Alexandria.’
After he founded the Church in Alexandria, Mark visited a cobbler named Anianus to get his shoes repaired. Anianus accidently cut his finger while fixing Mark’s shoes. Mark picked up a piece of the clay, spit on it, and applied the same on the cobbler’s finger as he prayed to Jesus to heal his wound. The wound healed completely within seconds.
Following this miracle, Anianus requested Mark to teach him everything about Christianity and Jesus. He promised to spread the message to his children and everybody else. In fact, Anianus himself became a Bishop in an Egyptian church. This is how Mark preached the miracles and truth of Christianity across the world.
He also became the first Bishop of Alexandria. He is also believed to be the founder of Christianity in Africa.
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In the ‘Gospel of Mark,’ it was mentioned that Saint John the Baptist cried out the preparation of Jesus ministry. According to the ‘Gospel,’ his scream seemed more like a lion’s roar. Mark took upon the responsibility of delivering the message in the boldness and strength of a lion. This is why he is often associated with a lion. In fact, he appeared as a lion in the vision of Prophet Ezekiel as well. Probably, this is why Mark the Evangelist’s symbol is winged lion.
During his time on the earth, Mark witnessed a lot of miracles and many were attributed to him as well. He also wrote about some of them in his Gospel. One of the miracles took place when Mark and his father were travelling across Jordan River when they were encountered by a male and a female lion. It was only a matter of time when Mark closed his eyes and prayed to Jesus and suddenly, both lions fell on the ground, dead.
He spent a large chunk of his life working with Saint Peter and spreading the message of Jesus across the seven seas. His mission was complete after his Gospel was enshrined on Papyrus.
Personal Life & Legacy
There are no records of married life of Mark. He dedicated his life to Jesus and delivering his messages in written or spoken form.
After completing his mission, Mark returned to Pentapolis later in his life. From there, he went back to Alexandria.
However, he was not welcomed in Alexandria by the pagans, who judged his intentions for taking their dedication from the traditional Gods. It is said that in AD 68, a rope was wrapped around his neck by these pagans and he was dragged through the streets, which resulted in his death.
It is said that Mark saw visions of angels and heard Jesus’ voice at the time of his death. The remains of his body were stolen by sailors, who took it to Venice.
St. Mark’s Basilica was constructed by his devotees. It is said even after his death, he miraculously healed people, when prayed.
He was also seen by many people in their visions.
The ‘Feast of St. Mark’ is observed and celebrated on April 25 every year by Catholic churches and communities. In Christian communities, where John Mark is a separate identity from John the Evangelist, the same is celebrated on September 27.
There are a number of paintings and artwork dedicated to him. He is often depicted as writing or holding his Gospel or as a Bishop on a throne surrounded with lions.