St Mark the Roman Catholic

Sometimes non-Catholic Christians question whether St Peter was ever in Rome. The New Testament itself offers pretty slim evidence. All we have is the verse at the end of the first epistle of Peter which says he is in Babylon with Mark. (1 Pt. 5:13)

However, when the rest of the documentary evidence is compliled we find that Papias (108) confirms Mark’s presence with Peter, saying that Mark’s gospel was based on the memories and sermons of Peter. Clement of Alexandria repeats the tradition that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome at the request of the Christians there, who asked for a written memorial of Peter’s preaching. This is also recorded in Eusebius.

St Mark, companion of St Paul, cousin of St Barnabas, colleague of St Peter, was part of that little church struggling away in the great city of Rome. He’s the one who records the intriguing little details like the young man who ran away naked in the Garden of Gethsamane. Was it Mark himself? He also records that Simon of Cyrene (Mk. 15:21) was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Is this the same Rufus mentioned as part of the Roman church in Romans 16:13? Was Mark recounting the story and reminding his Roman hearers that the man’s own son was a member of their congregation in Rome?

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  • Interesting. I too have been doing some thinking about St Mark since visiting what is alleged to be his family house in Jerusalem and is now the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St Mark.St Mark is one of those people everyone would like to claim. For a number of years now my key ring has been (intentionally) weighed down by a heavy brass medal of the Saint which I picked up in Venetian basilica.While I would be the last person to want to deny the Ventians their long-standing claim or the Syrian Orthodox theirs of even longer standing, surely we have now reached a point when we can acknowledge that figures of this kind are common to the universal Christian heritage. So St Mark the Catholic by all means. The addition of the word ‘Roman’ in this context limits his scope and influence beyond what is likely to be acceptable to an awful lot of Christians whose claim on the man is at least as good as that of the Church of Rome.

  • Hi Fr Dwight… check out the letter from ICEL which Fr Tim Finigan received on the new translation and copyright!

  • Dear me, St Mark is not ‘just’ a Roman Catholic, and that is not what I meant. As an apostolic founder of the Church in Rome he belongs to the universal Church just as much as Peter does.

  • I’m sure it’s not what you meant Father but as a relatively recent ‘Roman’ you will, I hope retain a smidgeon of sympathy for, say, the almost paranoiac Orthodox distrust of all things Roman. You recently extolled the virtues of size. The downside of that argument then (and now) is the outside perception of the Roman Church as playground bully. Now, I’m perfectly certain this is light years from what you had in mind when you wrote your piece on St Mark but ‘Roman claims’ on all manner of subjects (some of them most innocent) are at the root of a good deal that still scandalously divides Christians.

  • Indeed, the Roman claims are audacious. That’s one of the reasons I found them true: they were either mad, bad or true.I don’t wish to throw stones toward Constantinople, but shouldn’t we examine the reception JP2 received from the EO during almost all of his pontificate? Tiime and again he reached out his hand of reconciliation to the EO only to have it bitten.Time and again he has said of the papacy, ‘Come let us talk. Let’s put it on the table and see what we can do.’His pleas were (for the most part rejected or ignored)I’m sorry, but I simply don’t accept that (in recent times at least) Rome is the main problem.

  • ‘. . . in recent times at least’I’m afraid there you have it. Much of the damage is of considerable antiquity and, to his credit, the late, great JPII did try to start putting things right. The only trouble was these efforts were undermined the goings on – his and others of or allied to the Roman fold – in Eastern Europe as the Soviet empire started to collapse. To Orthodox eyes, these simply served to confirm every deeply ingrained anti-Roman suspicion they’d ever had. The present Holy Father seems less encumbered by such baggage and seems to be making some progress in achieving an East-West rapprochement. What a prize that would be!

  • We must hope and pray that the millennial anniversary of the Great Schism brings us formal reconciliation and re-union.