St. Mark was probably born John Mark, in the Holy Land, in the First Century AD. Mark was the cousin of Barnabas.
Mark was an early follower of Jesus. He was one of the 70 apostles sent out by Jesus to spread the faith in Palestine and beyond. However, Mark’s faith was tested when Jesus proclaimed that His flesh was "real food" and His blood was "real drink". St. Peter restored his faith in Jesus.
Mark became the companion of St. Peter and travelled with him widely. Mark acted as Peter’s interpreter. It is believed that at this time Mark began collecting information from Peter; this he would later use in writing his Gospel.
Later, Mark accompanied Sts. Paul and Barnabas on their journeys, bringing the Word of God to people.
Mark was ordered by St. Peter to go to Alexandria and spread the Word of God. He became the first Bishop of Alexandria. The Christian community that Mark founded was very important in the history of early Christianity. Because of this, Mark is often honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.
Many Christians believed that while he lived in Alexandria he wrote down the Gospel. St. Mark never claimed to have been the author of the Gospel, however, his authorship of the Gospel is confirmed by early Christians.
After many years ministering to his flock, St. Mark died in Alexandria. According to the Coptic Church, he was martyred in 68 AD. While celebrating Easter, he was attacked by a pagan mob, who after dragging him from his church, lynched him. Before he died, Jesus appeared to him, comforting him: "Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist!"
St. Mark performed many miracles during his time as bishop of Alexandria. Once, he made a Christian slave invulnerable to blows as he was about to be martyred by pagans.
The Christian community kept the body of Mark, and his tomb became a shrine.
In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria, which had been conquered by the Muslims two centuries earlier. Two Venetian traders, with the help of two Greek monks, disinterred the saint’s body and took it to Venice. The Venetian merchants believed that St. Mark guided them to the relics because he did not want his remains to lay in a city that had been conquered by the Muslims. Today, St. Mark’s remains lay in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
St. Mark was a transmitter of the Words of Jesus, and many of the best known teachings of Jesus are only known through his Gospel. For example, Mark 8:36 proclaims: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Likewise, Mark 10:4 states: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of God.”
St. Mark’s Gospel has been immensely influential in Christianity, and continues to teach and inspire Christians to this day.