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Commentary from 




Rivingtons, London, 1884


[APRIL 25.]

The festival of St. Mark is provided for in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, although not in the Comes of St. Jerome. Like others, it probably began in a local observance by the Church of a particular country, (in this case, Egypt,) and was gradually extended to all other Churches throughout the world.

Of the Saint commemorated on this day there can be no doubt; but it is not quite certain which of the Marks named in the Acts of the Apostles is Saint Mark the Evangelist. It seems most probable that he was not the John Mark of Acts xii. 12, and Acts xv. 37, (who was the aneyioV of St. Barnabas, and about whose conduct the sharp dissension arose between St Paul and St Barnabas,) but that the Evangelist was the "Marcus, my son," of whom St. Peter writes, in I Pet i. 13, as being his companion at Babylon. It was his association with St. Peter which led St. Mark to be the writer of the Gospel that goes by his name, and which is always connected with the name of St. Peter as well as of St Mark by ancient writers. The later years of his ministry were spent at Alexandria, where he founded the Church of Christ among the intellectual men of that learned city, and originated among them that class of Christian scholars which afterwards gave such a prominent place to Alexandria in the theological history of the Church. The Evangelist carried the knowledge of Christ and the ministry of the Church into less civilized parts of Africa, but Alexandria was the central point of his labours; and there he was martyred on a day when the heathen feast of Serapis was being observed, and which also appears to have been Easter Day, probably April 25th, and perhaps late in the first century, after most of the Apostles had gone to their rest. He was dragged from his place at the altar through the streets of the city, and over the rough cliffs adjoining, to prison; from whence the next morning he was again tortured in the same manner until his soul departed to spend a second and glorious Easter with his risen and ascended Lord.

One of the ancient Apostolic Liturgies goes by the name of St. Mark; and his Festival was formerly the day on which the Greater Litanies or Processions were said: but these latter originated with St. Gregory in the sixth century. [See Introduction to Litany, p. 188.]

The English Epistle and Gospel for this day were anciently, as they still are, different from those of the Latin and Oriental Churches.