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How to Celebrate the Feast of St. Mark

Updated: Apr 24


A glass jar of red roses sitting on a white vintage tablecloth.

The Feast of St. Mark is almost here!


Saint Mark was a follower 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 the Feast of St. Mark


Read Acts 15:37-39 and Colossians 4:10. Notice the difference in how Paul feels about Mark. Discuss why Paul might have changed towards Mark. Talk about the reconciliation that occurs when we follow Jesus and are submitted to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


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


Risi e Bisi (Rice and Peas)

A traditional dish for the Feast of St. Mark


4 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

8 slices of bacon

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 rounded cup Arborio rice 

Salt and pepper 

1 cup frozen peas 

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese

Mint or parsley, chopped


Place chicken stock in a small pot and warm over low heat. In a heavy saucepan, add the oil and onion and cook until it begins to soften. Add the bacon and cook for another five minutes or so, until it begins to release its fat. Add garlic. Sauté garlic for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook until all the grains are well coated with fat and begin to look translucent, then turn up the heat a little and add a ladleful of stock.  Bring to a bubble. Stir rice occasionally, allowing the rice to get starchy and the stock to cook into the rice. Add more stock when the rice starts to become dry. Continue stirring and ladling broth until the rice is al dente, 22 minutes. Stir in peas and cheese and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Top with the herbs. Serve immediately.

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