April 2008 - St. Mark

St. MarkSt. Mark came from a socially prominent Jewish family that was among the first to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah. His mother, Mary was a devoted follower of Jesus and she turned her home into a meeting place for Jesus and His disciples. After Pentecost, the house of Mary became a church and the early Christians conducted services there.  Mark knew the great joy of worshipping the living Jesus and he shared the responsibility of introducing the message of Christ to the world along with the disciples and apostles.St. Mark's mother opened her home to all and it is generally accepted that the "upper room," where the disciples gathered after the Ascension was in her home. In this house that the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2.1) and it was to this home that Peter turned after being released from Herod's prison. This holy corner of Jerusalem, "Where many were gathered together in prayer" (Acts 12.12), was the scene of the Last Supper of the Savior and after the Ascension and Pentecost the earliest church of the new faith.

As a disciple of St. Peter, St. Mark preached the message of Christ throughout the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. In Egypt and Libya, his preaching won converts in such great numbers that he became the first bishop of Alexandria, a city where Christianity took hold despite all manner of pagan resistance. During the reign of Tiberius, St. Mark's fiery preaching won him both respect from converts and envious wrath from dissenters who harassed him at every turn. 

During his time in Alexandria, St. Mark composed the Gospel which is part of the New Testament and which reflects his firm resolve and quiet courage. He is also the composer of a Divine Liturgy still used by the Orthodox Church on special feast days and upon which are based the liturgies of St. James, St. Basil, and St. John Chrysostom.It is said that he completed his life in martyrdom about the year 68 A.D. He is often depicted in holy icons with a lion next to him, one of the living creatures mentioned by Ezekiel (1:10), and a symbol of Christ's royal office.

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