Saint Mark and Venice

The Martyrdom


Fra Angelico: The Martyrdom of St. Mark
Museo di San Marco, Florence

     There is no hard evidence for the Martyrdom of St. Mark, but at the time such an end was de rigueur for any evangelist. This is the Golden Legend's description of his death. Coptic tradition dates it at the year 68; the Golden Legend has other ideas.  

Now it happened on Easter day, as St. Mark sang mass, they all assembled and put a cord about his neck.  They drew him throughout the city, and said: Let us draw the ox to his stall! And the blood ran upon the stones, and his flesh was torn piecemeal that it lay upon the pavement . After this they put him in prison, where an angel came and comforted him, and after came our Lord for to visit and comfort him, saying: Pax tibi Marce evangelista meus. Peace be to thee Mark, mine Evangelist! be not in doubt, for I am with thee and shall deliver thee. And in the morning they put the cord about his neck and drew him as they had done before and cried: Draw the ox! and when they had drawn him he thanked God and said: Into thy hands Lord, I commend my spirit, and he thus saying died. Then the pagans would have burnt his body, but the air began suddenly to change and to hail, lighten and thunder, in such a way that every man was forced to flee, and left the holy body alone. Then came the Christian men and bore it away, and buried it in the church, with great joy, honour, and reverence. This was in the year of our Lord fifty-seven, in the time that Nero was emperor.  

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