Parish Of Opawa St Martins Blog

March 5, 2009

Saint Mark

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Coptic icon of Saint Mark

Coptic icon of Saint Mark

Saint Mark the Evangelis, also known as John Mark, is traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark and a companion of Saint Peter. He accompanied Paul of Tarsus and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey. After a sharp dispute, Barnabas separated from Paul, taking Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-40). Later Paul called upon the services of Mark, the kinsman of Barnabas, and Mark was named as Paul’s fellow worker.

His feast day is celebrated on 25 April, the anniversary of his martyrdom. St Mark is also believed by various traditions to be the first bishop of Alexandria and the first Pope of Alexandria. He is considered the founder of the church in Alexandria, according to the Coptic church understanding, and thus the founder of Christianity in Africa. His evangelistic symbol is the lion.

Biblical and traditional information
According to the Coptic church, Saint Mark was born in the Pentapolis of North Africa. This tradition adds that he returned to Pentapolis later in life after being sent by Saint Paul to Colosse (Col 4:10) and serving with him in Rome (Phil 24; 2 Tim 4:11) ; from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria.

Mark of the Pauline Epistles is specified as a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10); this would explain Barnabas’ special attachment to the Mark of Acts over whom he disputed with Paul (Acts 15:37-40). Mark’s mother was a prominent member of the earliest group of Christians in Jerusalem. It was to her house that Peter turned on his release from prison; the house was a meeting-place for the brethren, “many” of whom were praying there on the night Peter arrived from prison (Acts 12:12-17). Evidence for Mark’s authorship of the Gospel that bears his name originates with Papias.

The martyrdom of Saint Mark. Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (Musée Condé, Chantilly).

The martyrdom of Saint Mark. Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (Musée Condé, Chantilly).


A number of traditions have built up around Mark, though none can be verified from the New Testament. It is suggested that Mark was one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine (John 2:1-11).Mark is also said to have been one of the Seventy Apostles sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1), the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13),the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52),the one who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus and into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20). When Mark returned to Alexandria, the people there are said to have resented his efforts to turn them away from the worship of their traditional Egyptian gods. In AD 68 they tied him to several horses and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mark

St Martin

Filed under: General — Administrator @ 10:18 pm
St Martin as a bishop

St Martin as a bishop

Saint Martin of Tours (Latin: Sanctus Martinus Turonensis), (Savaria, Pannonia {now Szombathely, Hungary}, 316 – November 8, 397 in Candes-Saint-Martin, Gaul {central France}; buried November 11, 397, Candes, Gaul) was a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Around his name much legendary material accrued and he has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Roman Catholic saints. He is considered a spiritual bridge across Europe, given his association with both France and Hungary.

Some of the accounts of his travels may have been interpolated into his vita to give credence to early sites of his cult. His life was recorded by a contemporary, the hagiographer Sulpicius Severus. He is a patron saint of France and of soldiers.

Early life
Martin was named after Mars, god of war, which Sulpicius Severus interpreted as “the brave, the courageous”. His father was a senior officer (tribune) in the Imperial Horse Guard, a unit of the Roman army, and was later stationed at Ticinum, Cisalpine Gaul (now Pavia, Italy), where Martin grew up.

At the age of ten, he went to the church against the wishes of his parents and became a catechumen or candidate for baptism. At this time, Christianity had been made a legal religion (in 316), but it was by no means the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. It had many more adherents in the Eastern Empire, whence it had sprung, and was concentrated in cities, brought along the trade routes by converted Jews and Greeks (the term ‘pagan’ literally means ‘country-dweller’). Christianity was still far from accepted amongst the higher echelons of society, and in the army the cult of Mithras would have been stronger. Although the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, and the subsequent programme of church-building, gave a greater impetus to the spread of the religion, it was still a minority faith. When Martin was fifteen, as the son of a veteran officer, he was required to join a cavalry ala himself and thus, around 334, was stationed at Ambianensium civitas or Samarobriva in Gaul (now Amiens, France). It is therefore likely that he joined the equites catafractarii Ambianenses, a unit of cataphracti listed in the Notitia Dignitatum.

The Legend of the Cloak

The Charity of St. Martin, by Jean FouquetWhile Martin was still a soldier at Amiens he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clad me.” (Sulpicius, ch 2). In another story, when Martin woke his cloak was restored, and the miraculous cloak was preserved among the relic collection of the Merovingian kings of the Franks.

St Martin and the Beggar, by El Greco, ca. 1597-99 (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

St Martin and the Beggar, by El Greco, ca. 1597-99 (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

The dream confirmed Martin in his piety and he was baptized at the age of 18. He served in the military for another two years until, just before a battle with the Gauls at Worms in 336, Martin determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting, saying, “I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight.” He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops. His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service.

Martin declared his vocation and made his way to the city of Tours, where he became a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers, a chief proponent of Trinitarian Christianity, opposing the Arianism of the Visigothic nobility. When Hilary was forced into exile from Poitiers, Martin returned to Italy, converting an Alpine brigand on the way, according to his biographer Sulpicius Severus, and confronting the Devil himself. Returning from Illyria, he was confronted by the Arian archbishop of Milan Auxentius, who expelled him from the city. According to the early sources, he decided to seek shelter on the island then called Gallinaria, now Isola d’Albenga, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, where he lived the solitary life of a hermit.

During the Medieval Ages, Frankish Kings would carry St. Martin’s cloak, which is called cappa in Latin into battle as a holy relic. The priest who cared for the cloak was called a cappellanu, and ultimately all priests who served the military were called cappellani. The French translation is chapelains, which is where the English word, chaplain derives from. One of the many services a chaplain can provide is spiritual and pastoral support for military service personnel by performing religious services at sea or in the battlefield.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_of_Tours

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