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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saint Mark

In quoting Dr. Aziz S. Atiya's book "A History of Eastern Christianity", Dr. McBirnie said:

"In Chapter "Origins of Coptic Christianity", Aziz S.
Atiya (A History of Eastern Christianity, pp. 25-28) tells of the very detailed
and firm tradition in Egypt among the Coptic churches regarding St. Mark: "St.
Mark brought his Gospel with him to Alexandria; and though the Greek version
could have fulfilled his purpose in that city, the suggestion is made that
another version in the Egyptian language was prepared for the benefit of native
converts who were "Mark's real labor lay in Africa. First, he crossed the
Mediterranean to Cyrenaica-the Pentapolis which had been his parents' residence
in bygone days. This country was colonized by Greeks and many Jews who offered
his zeal a ripe and hopeful harvest. After performing many miracles and sowing
the seeds of his faith, he went to Alexandria by a circuitous route through the
oases and Babylon, or Old Cairo. Alexandria was the Eastern counterpart of Rome,
both in importance and in being a stronghold of paganism, and it was imperative
that Christianity should win the two. The task was as worthy as it was
hazardous. "Here we face the important problem of dates. The History of the
Patriarchs mentions explicitly that the revelation to Peter and Mark, that they
should advance on Rome and Alexandria, came in the fifteenth year after the
Ascension of Christ, that is, 48 A.D. Other sources put his entry into
Alexandria in 55, 58 and 61 A.D. Whatever the right date of Mark's appearence in
the city, the consensus is that he was martyred in 68 A.D. Between those two
dates he was able to fulfill his mission and to win many converts.

"The story runs that on entering the city by the eastern
gate, he broke the strap of his shoe. So he went to a cobbler to mend it. When
the cobbler took an awl to work on it, he accidentally pierced his hand and
cried aloud: 'Heis ho Theos' (God is one). Mark rejoiced at this utterance and,
after miraculously healing the man's wound, took courage and gave the lesson to
the hubgry ears of his first convert. This happened to be Anianus, Mark's
successor as the second patriarch of Alexandria. The spark was fired, and the
cobbler took the Apostle home with him. He and his family were baptized, and
many others followed. So successful was the movement that the word spread that a
Galilean was in the city preparing to overthrow the idols. Popular feeling began
to rise, and men sought him everywhere. Scenting danger, the Apostle ordained
Anianus bishop, with three priests and seven deacons to watch over the
congregation in case anything befell him. Afterwards, he seems to have
undertaken two voyages. First he sallied into Rome where he met Peter and Paul,
and he left the capital only after their martyrdom in 64 A.D. He then stayed at
Aquilea, near Venice, before his return to Alexandria. On finding his flock firm
in the faith, he decided to visit the Pentapolis, where he spent two years
performing miracles, ordaining bishops and priests, and winning more converts.
When at last he reached Alexandria, he was overjoyed to find that the brethren
had so multiplied that they were able to build a considerable church in the
suburban district of Baucalis, where cattle grazed by the seashore.

"Spreading rumers that the Christians threatened to
overthrow the pagan deities infuriated the idolatrous populace. The end was
approaching, and the saint was unremittingly hunted by the enemy. In the year 68
A.D., Easter fell on the same day as the Serapis festival. The furious mob had
gathered in the Serapion and then descended on the Christians while they were
celebrating Easter at Baucalis. St. Mark was seized, dragged with a rope around
his neck in the streets, and then incarcerated for the night. In the following
morning the same ordeal was repeated until he gave up the ghost. His flesh was
torn and bloddy, and it was their intent to cremate his remains. But the wind
blew and the rain fell in torrents, and the populace dispersed. Thus the
Christians stealthily carried off his body and secretly buried it in a grave
which they had carved in the rock under the alter of the church."(A History of
Eastern Christianity, Aziz S. Atiya, pp. 22-28)


[1] pages 254-256, by Dr. William Stevart Mcbirnie, in the book "The search for the twelve Apostles". Living Books, Tyndale House Publishers 1973


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