Saint Mark was converted to the Faith by the Prince of the Apostles, whom he later accompanied to Rome, acting there as his secretary or interpreter. When Saint Peter wrote his First Epistle to the churches of Asia, he affectionately joined to his own salutation that of his faithful companion, whom he calls my son Mark. The Roman people entreated Saint Mark to put in writing for them the substance of Saint Peter’s frequent discourses on Our Lord’s life. This the Evangelist did under the eye and with the express sanction of the Apostle, and every page of his brief but graphic Gospel so bore the impress of Saint Peter’s character, that the Fathers used to name it Peter’s Gospel.
Saint Mark was then sent to Egypt to found the Church of Alexandria. There his disciples became the wonder of the world for their piety and asceticism; Saint Jerome speaks of Saint Mark as the father of the anchorites who at a later time thronged the Egyptian deserts. There, too, he set up the first Christian school, the fruitful mother of many illustrious doctors and bishops.
After governing his see for many years, Saint Mark was seized one day by the heathen, dragged by ropes over stones, and thrown into prison. On the morrow the torture was repeated, and after receiving the consolation of the sight of Angels and the voice of Jesus, Saint Mark went to his reward.
It is to Saint Mark that we owe the many pictorial touches which often give such vivid color to the Gospel scenes, and help us to visualize the very gestures and appearance of our Blessed Lord. It is he alone who notes that in the temptation Jesus was with the beasts; that He slept in the boat on a pillow; that He embraced the little children. He alone preserves for us the command, Peace, be still! by which the storm was quelled, and even the very Aramaic words He spoke, the Ephpheta and the Talitha, cumi! by which the dumb were made to speak and the dead to rise.
Reflection. Learn from Saint Mark’s Gospel to keep the image of the Son of man ever before your mind, and to ponder every syllable which fell from His lips.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894)