Mark (Evangelist)

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Depiction of the Evangelist Mark in the Lorsch Gospel Book , Carolingian book illumination , around 810
Gentile and Giovanni Bellini sermon of St. Mark in Alexandria , Accademia (Venice)

Mark is the name that the early church tradition ascribed to the author of what is probably the oldest gospel . The evangelist does not give his name himself.

If the author of the Gospel is referred to as “Mark” in the specialist literature, this is a convention and does not mean that Mark’s biography from the early church would be adopted.

The symbol of the evangelist is the lion of Mark .


The early church tradition gained the biography of Mark from the combination of different sources: the New Testament, especially the Acts of the Apostles , and the church fathers n Papias , Eusebius of Caesarea , Hieronymus and Epiphanius . "It takes up elements of the personnel legends as contained in the writings of the New Testament itself."

New Testament

The identity of the author of the Gospel of Mark with the namesake in the New Testament is disputed.

Collaborator of Paul

John Mark was a Jewish Christian or possibly a Gentile Christian in Jerusalem ( Acts 12.12  EU ) and the cousin of Barnabas ( Col 4.10  EU ). His mother Mary's house later became the center of the early Jerusalem community . John Mark was taken on the first mission trip by Barnabas and Paul ( Acts 13.4  EU ), but broke off the mission and returned to Perge in Pamphylia . Barnabas wanted to take Mark with him again for the second mission trip, but Paul refused and chose Silas as a companion, while Barnabas went to Cyprus with Mark ( Acts 15: 36-40  EU ).

Later there is a good relationship again between Paul and Mark, who is with Paul in Rome during the first imprisonment ( Col 4,10  EU , Phlm 24  EU ) and Paul expressly asks Timothy to come during his second imprisonment in Rome ( 2 Tim 4 , 11  EU ).

Disciple of Peter

An identification of John Mark with the Mark mentioned in 1 Peter’s letter is uncertain and also assumes that 1 Peter was written by the apostle Peter. Church tradition draws this connection and thus defines Rome as the place where the Gospel of Mark was written. Accordingly, he is in Rome with Peter ( 1 Pet 5,13  EU ), who calls him his "son". In the gospel, however, there are no signs that the author was an eye-witness of Jesus' earthly days, which speaks against Peter's participation in the gospel.

Patristic literature

Disciple of Peter

Papias reported, for which he appealed to a presbyter John, that Mark was Peter's translator and that he wrote down Peter's teachings precisely, but not in the same order in which he heard them. In the opinion of Joachim Gnilka, Papias, or his informant, is guided by apologetic interests: "It is a matter of securing the authority and reputation of the oldest gospel now through indirect ties to the apostle Peter."

All other early church authors are dependent on Papias, so that he is "ultimately the only independent witness."

Bishop of Alexandria

Eusebius, Hieronymus and Epiphanius also know the tradition that Markus was the founder of the community in Alexandria - the time of his arrival is given as the forties or fifties. Only sources from the fourth century (Hieronymus, Eusebius of Caesarea, Marks files) report Mark's martyrdom in Alexandria on April 25, 68. The Coptic Church sees him as its first Pope .

The city of Aquileja has a tradition mentioned in the Legenda Aurea , but not confirmed by any early church sources, that Mark preached there and wrote a second, Latin Gospel.


  • According to early Christian tradition: the Gospel according to Mark.
  • According to the Alexandrian-Egyptian tradition: additionally the liturgy of St. Mark (also called the Cyrillus liturgy).

Adoration of saints

Transfer of St. Mark's relics to San Marco, around 1265, Porta Sant'Alipio, north portal of the main facade, last picture of St. Mark's legend

In the foreword of some Vulgate editions he is referred to as “Mark the Evangelist who exercised a priestly office in Israel, a Levite of origin”. Presumably this goes back to the fact that John Mark was a cousin of the Levite Barnabas ( Acts 4,36  EU ). The mantle of St. Mark, which every bishop was dressed in when he took office, has been kept in Alexandria for centuries. Pilgrimages to the grave of St. Mark are reported as early as the fourth century .

According to Coptic tradition, Mark put together the Holy Liturgy, one of the oldest liturgies in the Church, from which the other three Orthodox liturgies are derived. It was memorized and passed down orally until it was recorded by Athanasius in 330 and given to the first bishop of Ethiopia . The liturgy was greatly expanded by Cyril of Alexandria and has since been known as the Liturgy of Saint Cyril. A papyrus fragment from the fourth or fifth century is in Strasbourg . Medieval copies are in the possession of the Vatican; a version also exists in Ethiopian.

The bones of St. Mark are smuggled out of Alexandria by two Venetians; Mosaic on the south portal of San Marco, first picture of the legend of St. Mark

On January 31, 828, the extremely momentous arrival of the bones of St. Mark in Venice occurred. According to tradition, two Venetian merchants or tribune , Buono di Malamocco and Rustico di Torcello, possibly at the initiative of the Doge, stole the bones in Alexandria , Egypt , hidden them under cured pork and carried them off to Venice by ship. A legend served as justification, according to which Markus crossed the (as yet uninhabited) lagoon of Venice on his missionary trips and received the prophecy from an angel that his bones would one day rest here. The greeting of the angel PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGELISTA MEUS Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist is included in most of the Venetian depictions of the lion of Mark .

In Venice, the precursor church of St. Mark's Basilica was built in his honor , which burned down completely in 976. The bones of Mark were "found again" in 1094 when the construction of St. Mark's Basilica was completed. The winged St. Mark's lion became the national coat of arms of the Republic of Venice , an expression of their self-confidence towards the Rome of Peter and the Frankish Empire with the mantle of St. Martin and Byzantium of Andreas . Today's stone sarcophagus under the main altar of San Marco bears the Latin inscriptions Body of St. Mark the Evangelist (front) and My son Mark greets you ( 1 Petr 5,13  EU ; back).

Some of the Venetian relics were returned to the Patriarch of Alexandria as a gesture of goodwill on the 1900 anniversary of the founding of the Coptic Church in 1968 and have been kept in the papal St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo ever since .

Remembrance day

  • Catholic: April 25th (traditional festival in the general Roman calendar ), in Venice also January 31st (transfer of the bones)
  • Evangelical: April 25th
  • Anglican: April 25th
  • Orthodox: January 4th or April 25th (in the case of the Julian calendar , May 8th of the Gregorian calendar)

Pawn rule

A farmer's rule corresponding to the Catholic name day on April 25th reads "If it's warm now for Markus, you freeze to the core."


The saint is the patron saint of the city of Venice , the island of Reichenau on Lake Constance , Egyptian Christianity and the professions of construction worker, bricklayer, glazier, basket maker, notary and scribe. He is called in the event of storms, sudden death, lightning, hail, scabies, torments. In addition, it should help to ensure good weather and a good harvest.

Besides in Cairo and Venice, relics of Mark can also be found on the island of Reichenau, in Rome , Paris , Cambrai , Tournai and Cologne .

For eponyms see San Marco .


Jacopo Tintoretto : The evangelists Markus (in the foreground) and Johannes

The attributes of the figure of St. Mark are strongly dependent on the time of creation, but he is often shown as a middle-aged man with a long beard, dark hair and a powerful face. A book (closed or open) almost always identifies him as a writer of one of the Gospels, possibly a quill or other writing utensils. Like all evangelists, Mark is depicted in traditional costume (tunic, toga) that is occasionally belted around the hips.

The vast majority of illustrations of the evangelist can be found in book illumination in the tradition of the author or evangelist portrait ( Lorsch Gospels ). In monumental art he usually appears in conjunction with the other three evangelists. The four evangelists are often depicted above the four streams of Paradise , with Mark assigned to the Gihon ( Nile ). The most important St. Mark's cycles can be found in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, where the “translatio” of St. Mark's relic is shown in monumental mosaics in addition to the life of the saints.


Web links

Commons : Markus (Evangelist)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The Bible. Standard translation of the scriptures. Complete edition . Stuttgart 2016, p. 1582 .
  2. Joachim Gnilka: The Gospel according to Mark . In: EKK . tape II / 1 , p. 32 .
  3. a b Joachim Gnilka: The Gospel according to Mark . In: EKK . tape II / 1 , p. 33 .
  4. La Vita. In: Retrieved October 9, 2019 (Italian, English).
  5. ^ Diocesan assembly in Paris ( Memento of July 24, 2018 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Erna and Hans Melchers: The great book of saints. Südwest Verlag, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-517-00617-3 , pp. 248-249.
predecessor Office successor
- Bishop of Alexandria