In researching St. Mark I found so many different stories and they all seemed to contradict each other. In the end I'm not sure what is really the truth of his life but will share what I found to be the most fascinating aspects about the saint.
St. Mark had traveled with Paul and Barnabas and was possibly a source of contention dividing the two in their evangelic travels. In the end, all made peace and Mark was known to be a great help in spreading the good news of Christ.
St. Mark was a close friend and possibly a relative of St. Peter during the early years of Christianity, and it was from Peter that St. Mark learned about the life of Jesus. St. Mark payed close attention to Peter's preaching and recorded everything that he learned from our first Pope, and that's where I feel that I just may have something in common with my 2017 patron. Most of the blog posts that I share here are taken from my notes written while listening to moving homilies or talks given by great priests. In addition, St. Mark is a patron of imprisoned people, so there's a connection with the title of this blog, too.
In St. Mark's Gospel he mentions a man with a water jug at whose house the disciples were to prepare the passover. That house may have belonged to Mark's mother, Mary. His Gospel also mentions a man who ran away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane. There is speculation that St. Mark may have been the man with the water jug and the man fleeing from the Garden. He is also mentioned as having been present at the wedding at Cana where water was changed to wine.
St. Mark is identified with a lion because he begins his Gospel with St. John the Baptist described as a "voice crying out in the wilderness." St. Mark was martyred in 68 AD when he was dragged through the city of Alexandria for two days until he died. His relics can be found in Alexandria and at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. St. Mark's Feast Day is April 25th.
St. Mark is the patron saint of stained glass window makers, although I haven't been able to make a connection as to why that might be so other than the fact that he painted pictures with his words. But with that patronage I've decided that this will be the year that I will work on making more sea glass mosaics under his guidance. From the time I started collecting sea glass ten years ago I had always thought that I'd like to make a mosaic of the Virgin Mary but never thought I would be up to the task and had no idea about how to begin on my own. So it must have been St. Mark's influence that caused me to discover a lovely mosaic of Mary and Jesus made by a woman from Helsinki that was shared in a sea glass group on facebook, and upon seeing it I knew that I, too, could piece together the same image.
My friend Christi of Lumen Christi Art who designed and helped me to make a Sea Glass Tree of Life mosaic two years ago had sent her Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entry for Christmas Artwork, the icon of "Mother of God of Tenderness," as a Christmas card this past year. Of the icon she wrote: "Christ draws our attention to His mother and there is an additional detail of love where we see that Jesus' arm is around His mother's neck. The little face tenderly pressed against His mother's face is Christ Immanuel, the Glory of God and Creator of all."
Using Christi's icon and my new friend from Helsinki's art as examples I have begun the work under the patronage of St. Mark. Our Lady's face was certainly the most difficult part so far and I'm nervous about bringing Jesus' face to life after the difficulty I had with His mother's face. I'm sure that if I would try to replicate this mosaic I would make lots of changes the second time around to improve it, but for a first effort on my own I'd say it's going pretty well and I am learning a lot. I only have so much glass available to me so using limited supplies poses a challenge, as well. My mosaic definitely has more of a folk art feel than classic art but I am enjoying the work and the deep prayer that accompanies the task. The image below is my humble beginning. I'll be sure to share the finished project in a future post.