evangelist. He is usually, but not invariably, identified with John Mark whose mother's house in Jerusalem was a meeting-place for the Apostles and with the young man, described in Mark 14: 51, who followed Christ after his arrest and then escaped capture. He was later the companion of both Paul and Peter. Paul and Barnabas (Mark's cousin) took him with them on the first missionary journey, but Mark turned back at Perga (Pamphylia) for Jerusalem. Paul was not satisfied; the ensuing quarrel with Barnabas led to Barnabas and Mark together preaching in Cyprus (Acts 13 and 15). Later, when Paul was captive at Rome, Mark was with him, helping (Col. 4: 10). Peter also referred to him affectionately as his ‘son’ (1 Pet. 5: 13), which accords well with the traditional ascription to Mark of a gospel which represented the teaching and memoirs of Peter, whose ‘interpreter’ Clement of Alexandria and Papias say he was. It is likely that the Gospel of Mark was written before those of Matthew and Luke.
The assertion that Mark went to Alexandria (of which he is reckoned the first bishop) was recorded by Eusebius, but neither Clement of Alexandria nor Origen mentions it. This persistent tradition, however, together with unreliable details about his martyrdom which is placed in ‘the eighth year of Nero’ is virtually the only information about him not contained in the NT writings.
The history of his relics is notable. Early in the 9th century his body was brought to Venice, whose patron he became and has remained to this day. Although the original church of St Mark there was burnt in 976, the rebuilt basilica contains both the relics from Alexandria and the magnificent series of mosaics on Mark's life, death, and translation. These date from the 12th–13th centuries and form a unique record of him. The symbol of Mark as an evangelist, the lion, is also much in evidence at Venice, as it is elsewhere in portraits of the evangelists.
Feasts: 25 April; the translation feast to Venice, 31 January.
AA.SS. Apr. III (1675), 344–58 and Sept. VII (1760), 379–90;G. Pavanello, ‘San Marco nella legenda e nella storia’, Rivista della citta di Venezia (1928), pp. 293–324;G. Musolino, La Basilica di San Marco in Venezia (1955);for St Mark's Gospel, the commentary by Bede (ed. D. Hurst, C.C., cxx, 1960) is the standard one of Christian antiquity, while modern ones are by M. J. Lagrange (Études Bibliques, 1911); R. H. Lightfoot, The Gospel Message of Mark (1950); A. M. Farrer, A Study in St Mark (2nd edn. 1966);W. Telford, The Interpretation of Mark (1995); M. Hooker The Gospel according to St Mark (1991).