Thursday, 24 April 2008

Saint Mark the Evangelist

25th April is the feast day of St Mark. For Latins this is the latest day on which Easter can fall.
To St Mark is attributed the Gospel that bears his name. It is the oldest Gospel available; scholars argue that this Gospel borrows from an older source called Q.

St Peter calls him as son. He was very close to Paul and Barnabas. What we have here is one of the key people of the Apostolic Church. St Mark sealed his witness to Christ with his own blood in Alexandria probably in the year 68. His relics are venerated in Venice.

There are various traditions around the Christian world attached to St Mark’s day. In the Patristic age he was venerated as the Patron Saint of the earth. On his day special processions were organised to go round fields and bless them. In England this became known as the beating of the bounds. In other countries, people observing their priests sprinkling holy water over fields mistook this as a blessing of the four winds. Gradually it became known as the blessing of winds. St Mark is also the Patron saint of those who are impenitent. Eventually these processions got another layer added to them as penitential processions during which the Litany of Saints was sung. In other countries seeds were blessed on this day.
Here at St John’s we shall not have a stational procession or beating of the bounds but during the Holy Sacrifice prayers are offered for repentance, for those involved in agriculture, for the fruits of the earth, for allotments and those who keep them, for gardeners (Kent is the Garden of England after all) and for all those who live or work within our Parish boundaries. This will bring together all the different strands added to the feast of St Mark. However, above all, we shall pray for those who are named after him especially our curate Fr Mark North SSC.
Saint Mark's day will be very busy here. Lauds at 9am, Mass at 9.30am, Hospital Chaplaincy from 10.45am, Sacred Space (exposition) from 2 to 3.30pm. Office of Readings, Vespers and Benediction at 3.30pm. Stuart, our Parish Administrator will be here in the afternoon to prepare the pew sheets for Sunday, and workers are going to be in the Vicarage to install a new and much needed patio door.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing enjoy St Mark's day.

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