St. Mark the Evangelist was a companion of the Apostle Peter. He is said to have survived being thrown to the Lions – they would not eat him – and to have founded the Church of Alexandria in Egypt, one of the original Apostolic Sees of Christianity (along with Rome, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem).
Miniature of Saint Mark from the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany (1503–8) by Jean Bourdichon (from Wikipedia)
He is also traditionally credited with writing the Gospel of Mark…but scholars think that’s a maybe. Regardless, that Gospel is unique in that it is the oldest of the 4 Gospels, and doesn’t include a Christmas story. The Jesus in Mark’s Gospel hits the ground running – a man of action.
His symbol is a winged lion, which is also the symbol of Venice. Why a winged lion? Well…I found this lovely explanation from the website of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Tampa:
“This symbol comes from St. Mark’s description of John the Baptist’s voice “crying out in the wilderness” upon hearing the Word of God (Mark 1:3). His voice is said to have sounded like that of a roaring lion. This lion symbolism also appears in a vision of the Prophet Ezekiel where four winged creatures represent the four evangelists (Ezekiel 1:10).
St Mark, represented as a lion, is also derived from the prophetic visions contained in the verse Revelations 4:7. The lion is one of the four living creatures described in the book as a place around the throne of the Almighty and they are chosen as symbols of the four evangelists. Matthew is depicted as a human, Mark as a lion, Luke as a bull, and John as an eagle.
The Lion of Saint Mark is also the symbol of the city of Venice. Venetian tradition states that when St. Mark was traveling through Europe, he arrived at a lagoon in Venice, where an angel appeared to him and said “May Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist. Here your body will rest.” The remains of St. Mark are interred in the Basilica of St. Mark which is located in the famous St. Mark Square (Piazza San Marco) of Venice. “
So – we FEAST for this lion of a man, this founder of major churches, this survivor of the lion’s den, this (maybe?) author of the Gospel of Mark.
My son and I are attempting this Lion Cake
tomorrow from CatholicCulture.org. I suppose you could also go Venetian with this day, and make tirimisu or risotto.
Most importantly, though, I plan to renew my vim for this Feast Day, smack in the middle of the Easter Season. It’s hard to maintain 50 days of Feasting, and I’ve become a little feast-jaded. Ho hum, I’m having jam on my toast for breakfast. Blah, here’s some Easter Candy. Since St. Mark the Evangelist went forth like a Lion, I shall wake up tomorrow and roar! CHRIST IS RISEN! IT’S STILL EASTER!