St. Mark the Apostle, Evangelist
Preacher of The Christian Faith in Africa
St. Mark was a native of the North Africa county of Libya. He was born in the city of Cyrene in Pentapolis, The western part of Libya, west of the border of Egypt. St. Mark was born of Jewish parents three years after the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. His original name was John and his surname was Mark : “And when he (Peter) came to himself ….., he (Peter) came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many gathered together praying” (acts 12:11-12); and ” Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark” (acts 15:37); “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark” (Acts 12:25). St. Mark’s parents, Aristopolos his father and Mary his mother, migrated to Palestine shortly after the birth of St. Mark because of the Berber attacks on their town and property. They settled in Cana of Galilee not far from Jerusalem A few years later St. Mark’s father died and Peter Simon (St. Peter), who was married to a relative of St. Mark’s father took care of St. Mark and considered him a son: “The Church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you and so does Marcus (Mark) my son”; (1 Peter 5:13). Peter Simon saw to it that St. Mark got a good education. St. Mark studied law and the classics.
Church Traditions state that Mary, St. Mark’s mother, was admirer of Jesus Christ and followed Him everywhere and that St. Mark was one of the attendants who served at the feast in Cana of Galilee at which Jesus Christ turned the waster into wine: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee… and both Jesus and was called and his disciples, to the marriage… when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, … This was the first miracle Jesus did…” (John 2:1-11)
+ He was born in the Pentapolis or Qairawan (Now Tunisia or Libya according to other sources) approximately 15 years after our Lord was born.
+ He witnessed the preaching of our Lord in Palestine as well as his passion.
+ He is the author of the earliest Gospel to be written (it was written in Greek).
+ He was the founder of Christianity in Egypt or in Alexandria at least. He came to Alexandria approximately 48 AD. Foot Note: According to some sources, St. Peter preached in Babylon about the same time St. Mark was in Alexandria; however he focussed on the Jews of Babylon (a city near Memphis, Cairo now).
+ He was martyred in 68 AD when pagans of Serapis (the Serapion-Abbis Greek Egyptian god) tied him to a horse’s tail and dragged him through the streets of Alexandria’s district of Bokalia for two days until his body was torn to pieces.
+ The Church celebrates his martyrdom on the 8th of May each year.
+ His head is in a church named after him in Alexandria, and parts of his relics are in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. The rest of his relics are in the San Marco Cathedral in Venice, Italy.
+ Of his titles are: The Evangelist, the Apostle, the Witness and the Martyr.