St. Mark was an evangelist, or Gospel writer. In fact, he was the pioneer in Gospel writing. His is the shortest and the oldest of the Gospels. Little is known of Mark except from the New Testament. He was not one of the twelve apostles, but was a member of the first Christian community. Mark had firsthand experience of the early Church and apostolic life. He was a traveling companion and assistant of Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. Something happened to Mark on that journey, perhaps homesickness, so he returned to Jerusalem. The incident caused a quarrel between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas, Mark’s cousin, was sympathetic toward Mark, but Paul would not hear of Mark accompanying them again. Later Paul and Mark must have been reconciled, because when Paul wrote to Timothy during his final imprisonment, he asked for Mark’s help.
Mark’s Gospel was a great contribution to the Church. It included oral and written tradition concerning the words and deeds of Jesus. Mark probably secured some of his material from St. Peter. He shows Jesus as the suffering Son of God. Mark knew that to accept the Risen Jesus meant to come to terms with the cross. Jesus was glorified because he willingly allowed himself to suffer death for our salvation. Mark writes that anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must accept the cross.
Mark wrote to proclaim the Good News to a community of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. His Gospel is direct and simple to read. He speaks to Christians about Jesus, who understands their difficulties and sufferings and will one day bring them to share with him eternal joy and glory.
Traditionally Mark is thought to have been founder and bishop of the church of Alexandria, Egypt, where he was martyred.
Over the years artists have given a symbol to each of the evangelists. Mark’s symbol is a winged lion because his Gospel begins with the story of John the Baptist who, like a roaring lion, called people to repent.
from Saints Kit
Image credit: San Marcos by Jusepe Leonardo, 1630. Public Domain via Wikimedia.