Who is Saint Mark the Evangelist? Why is he Portrayed as a Winged Lion?

Saint Mark

Saint Mark the Evangelist wrote the second gospel, the Gospel according to Mark. He is one of the four evangelists who penned the good news of Jesus.

Not only did Mark write the Gospel, he also founded the Church of Alexandria, which is referred to in early Christianity as one of the most important episcopal sees. 

In his lifetime he evangelized the word of Christ not only in writing but by traveling great distances as a Christian missionary alongside Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas.

Little is known about the day of his birth, but it is confirmed that he was born in Cyrene, Libya. 

Saint Mark and the Winged Lion

Bible:

Saint Mark is symbolized as the winged lion. Early Christians used creatures as symbols of the four Gospels and likened the Four Evangelists to the bible’s “original creatures”. The connection between these creatures and the Evangelists grew over the centuries in the written word as well as in art.

In Revelations 4:7 we read: 

“And the first living creature resembled a lion, and the second living creature resembled a calf, and the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature resembled a flying eagle.”

Animal   

Gospel Author

Gospel

The Lion

Saint Mark the Evangelist

Gospel According to Mark

The Lamb

Saint Matthew

Gospel According to Matthew

The Ox

Saint Luke

Gospel According to Luke

The Eagle

Saint John

Gospel According to John

Lion Symbol:

The lion symbolizes the resurrection of Christ the King. We look upon the lion as the king of beasts and as courageous. As Christians we too are called upon to be courageous and to spread the good news of Christ.

Relics:

Parts of Saint Mark’s relics are conserved in the city of Venice. Venice so loved Saint Mark that he is their patron saint. The symbol of the city of Venice is a winged Lion holding the bible.

Winged Lion

Legend:

There is also a Christian legend which describes Saint Mark being thrown to the lions, only to have them neglect him. Not even attacking and outright refusing to harm the Saint. The usually aggressive lions ended up sleeping at his feet, while the Saint gently petted them. Impressed and perplexed by this sight, the Romans decided to release him and let him be.

History of Saint Mark the Evangelist

Honor Saint Mark with this beautiful pendant. Get Yours Here

Saint Mark is the son of Mary of Jerusalem and was the cousin of Saint Barnabas. Mark first encountered Saint Peter during the second year of Emperor Claudius in Rome. Peter took Mark as his interpreter and travel companion. Mark was responsible for writing down Peter's sermons. With Peter's preaching, he was able to compose the Gospel of Mark, before leaving for Alexandria in the third year of Emperor Claudius' rule. 

Saint Mark then lived in Alexandria, Egypt for many years and had established the Church of Alexandria while staying there. He died as a martyr on April 25, 68 A.D., from being dragged through the streets of the very city. 

His feast day is celebrated on April 25.

We find Saint Mark portrayed as holding the bible and writing the gospel. Often we find him accompanied by a Winged Lion.

Author: Stephen Connelly

Stephen was born in Ireland but now calls Massachusetts home. He is married and together they have four children. Stephen loves writing, especially on his favorite subject Catholicism, and we are extremely fortunate that he has chosen to write for the Catholic Faith Store.

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