“At Alexandria, the birthday of blessed Mark, evangelist, disciple and interpreter of the Apostle St. Peter. He wrote his gospel at the request of the faithful of Rome, and taking it with him, proceeded to Egypt and founded a church at Alexandria, where he was the first to announce Christ. Afterwards, being arrested for the faith, he was bound, dragged over stones and endured great afflictions. Finally he was confined to prison, where, being comforted by the visit of an angel, and even by an apparition of our Lord himself, he was called to the heavenly kingdom in the eighth year of the reign of Nero.”
The Golden Legend says that Mark was a Levite and a Jewish priest. “And when he was christened, he was godson of St. Peter the apostle, and therefore he went with him to Rome. When St. Peter preached there the gospel, the good people of Rome prayed St. Mark that he would put the gospel in writing, like as St. Peter had preached.”
Peter sent Mark to Alexandria (Egypt) to preach, and such was his success, that Peter made him the city’s bishop, but Mark, not greatly enamored of the prospect, cut off his thumb so that he couldn’t be made a priest. [It must have grown back, because he has both is thumbs in the picture.] His self-mutilation didn’t work. Bishop Mark went on to lead the church in Alexandria.
The usual suspects (idol worshippers) began to plot how they might kill him, whereupon Mark took advantage of the Witness Protection Program, left his Auxiliary Bishop in charge, and moved to another town for two years. Figuring that they must have got over their ire and moved on with their lives (he was wrong), he returned to Alexandria.
“Now it happened on Easter day, when St. Mark sang Mass, they assembled all and put a cord about his neck, and drew him throughout the city… And the blood ran upon the stones, and his flesh was torn piecemeal that it lay upon the pavement all bloody. After this they put him in prison, where an angel came and comforted him, and after came our Lord to visit and comfort him, saying, ‘Peace be to you, Mark, my Evangelist! Be not in doubt, for I am with you and shall deliver you.’
And on the morn they put the cord about his neck and drew him like they had done before… and when they had drawn, he thanked God and said: ‘Into Thy hands Lord, I commend my spirit’, and he thus saying died. “
He is a patron of notaries and lawyers, and from various miracles, the patron of glaziers, prisoners, and those suffering from neck swellings. He is invoked against the danger of dying impenitent, skin diseases, and insect bites [keep a little statue of St. Mark on your picnic table this summer].
While St. Mark’s Eve is considered the optimum time for seeking otherworldly knowledge, if you chose not to trust your nerves last night there is a love charm available today. It is a little early in the northern hemisphere for sage plants, but if you have one growing on your windowsill (and the theft of a few leaves won’t be noticed), wait until the clock begins to strike the noon hour, then pluck one sage leaf at each stroke of the bell. You should dream of your future husband tonight, if you are to have one.
Limbourg frères, “Martyrdom of Saint Mark”, Très Riches Heures de Jean, Duc de Berry (15th century)