Saint Mark and Venice

The Posthumous Miracles

St Mark was kept very busy after his death, especially around Venice, and the Golden Legend describes his miracles with enthusiasm. A number of them are shown in bronze panels created by Sansovino for the choir of the Basilica San Marco. 


The miracle of the slave from Provence

There was a gentleman of Provence who had a servant that wished go on a pilgrimage to St Mark, but he could not get permission from his lord. At last despite the anger of his lord, he went there with much devotion. When his lord found out he took it very badly, and as soon as the servant returned he commanded that his eyes should be put out. The other servants that were ready to do the lord's will made ready sharp spikes of iron. They tried with all their power, but they could not do it. Then the lord commanded them to hack off his thighs with axes, but the iron became as soft as molten lead. Then he commanded them to break his teeth with iron hammers, but the iron became so soft that they could do him no harm. Then when the lord saw the virtue of God so openly by the miracles of St Mark, he demanded pardon and went to Venice, to St Mark, with his servant.  

The miracle of the knight with the Injured arm

There was a knight so hurt in battle that his hand hung on the arm in such a way that his friends and surgeons advised him to cut it off, but he, who was accustomed to be whole, was ashamed to be maimed, and bound it in its place. After this he called devoutly to St Mark, and his hand was as whole as it had been before, with just a scar to act as witness to the miracle.  

The miracle of Rain in Apulia

    It happed that there was great famine in Apulia, and the land was so barren that nothing would grow there. It was shown by revelation to a holy man that it was because that they had not hallowed the feast of St Mark; and when they knew this, they hallowed the feast of St Mark. Then plenty of goods began to grow throughout all the country.  

  Note: this is a curious miracle for a Christian saint, more pagan propitiation than Christian charity. 

Tintoretto: St Mark rescuing a Saracen from shipwreck
Accademia, Venice

   Some merchants of Venice went by the sea in a ship of Saracens towards Alexandria; and when they saw the ship was in danger, they climbed into the small boat that was towed behind and  cut the cords that tied them the ship. Soon the ship began to break up by the force of the sea. All the Saracens fell in the sea and most of them drowned. Then one of the Saracens made his vow to St Mark and promised him that, if he delivered him from this danger, he would be baptized. Then a shining figure appeared to him, and took him out of the water and returned him to the ship, and straight away the tempest ceased. When he came to Alexandria he forgot all about St Mark, who had delivered him from peril.  He did not go to visit him, nor was he baptized. Then St Mark appeared to him, and chastised him for forgetting who had saved him. Straight away the Saracen recovered his conscience. He went to Venice, and was there baptized and named Mark.  He believed perfectly in God, and ended his life in good works.  
 There are more miracles in the Golden Legend: click here for the full text.


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