Saint Mark was a disciple of Jesus and the author of the Gospel of Mark. He was a companion of the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter and is believed to have been a close associate of these two key figures in the early Christian church. According to tradition, Mark was born in Jerusalem and was the son of the woman who owned the house where the Last Supper occurred as well as where the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. He was a disciple of Peter and is said to have accompanied Peter to Rome and to have served as his secretary, writing down Peter's teachings and sermons. It is believed that these sermons became the foundation for the Gospel of Mark.
Mark was the cousin of Barnabas and traveled with Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. For some reason, Mark left them and returned home which greatly angered Paul. The rift between Paul and Mark was later healed and Mark became a close companion to Paul.
St. Mark later traveled to Alexandria where he founded the Church of Alexandria. He became the first bishop of Alexandria and is considered the father of Christianity in Africa. He was martyred in AD 68.
St. Mark is depicted writing his gospel, with a palm symbolizing martyrdom or as a winged lion. The winged lion comes from the prophecy of Ezekiel 1:10 where it is believed that the four evangelists are described.
Ways to Celebrate St. Mark's Day
Put out red roses or give each child a red rose. In Venice, St. Mark’s Day is also known as Festa del Bocolo or The Rosebud Festival. According to legend, a man of low social standing fell in love with a noblewoman from Venice. In order to win her father's approval, he became involved in a distant war. He was mortally wounded in battle but managed to pluck a rose from a nearby rosebush for his loved one. A companion was entrusted with returning the blood-stained rose to his lover. On this day, men traditionally give a single rosebud to the women they love.
Make Risi e Bisi. Risi e Bisi or Rice and Peas is the traditional Venetian food for the day.
Since Palm branches represent martyrdom, decorate your table with palm branches.