Saint Mark was a contemporary of Christ, born in what is now Tunisia/Libya, in Africa. He was born to Jewish parents three to fifteen years after the birth of Christ. Shortly after his birth, his parents relocated to Cana of Galilee, not far from Jerusalem. After personally witnessing the preaching of Christ, they became Christians. Following the death of his father, Saint Peter, a relative through marriage, saw that Saint Mark received an education. He studied law and the classics.
As an educated disciple of Christ, Saint Mark became one of the four evangelists. In those days, an evangelist was a person who engaged in public preaching and writing to convert others to the Christian faith. The Book of Saint Mark is, of course, attributed to him. It was the first of the bible gospels written. He wrote in Greek and his gospel is known for its “concise narrations, its pleasing simplicity and elegance.” It is presumed that he did most of his writing in Italy.
The new preaching of Christianity was not popular with the ruling Romans. According to legend, when Saint Mark was arrested and thrown into a den of lions, he remained safe. The lions refused to attack him. Instead, they calmly laid at his feet. This startled the Romans and they released him. From then on, Saint Mark was referred to as The Lionhearted. In fact, Saint Mark is credited for working many additional miracles.
Saint Mark traveled rather extensively on mission trips with Saint Barnabas and Saint Paul. He was sent by Saint Peter to Egypt in 48 AD where he founded the Church of Alexandria which was second only to Rome in Christian importance. The “prodigious progress of faith in Alexandria stirred up heathens”. Saint Mark was captured and dragged behind an oxen cart for two days, dying a martyr of the Christian faith. The year was 68 AD.
Our church was named Saint Mark in honor of this great, brave man. In paintings and other renderings of Saint Mark, he is often depicted holding a book and scroll, accompanied by a winged lion. The beautiful stained glass window above the altar is a depiction of Saint Mark with book and scroll in hand - and a lion sitting at his feet.