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E06893: The Greek Martyrdom of *Mark the Evangelist (S00293) recounts his preaching in different cities of Libya and Egypt, his pursuit and capture by pagans in Alexandria, and his torture and death by dragging through the city. Written presumably in Alexandria, and possibly in the 5th century.

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posted on 2018-10-15, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Martyrdom of Markos (BHG 1035)


1. Saint Markos the Evangelist arrives in Egypt to preach the Gospel. He Christianises Egypt, Libya, Marmarica, Ammoniaca, and the Pentapolis, where paganism prevailed until then.

2. Through his preaching activity and healing miracles, Markos, a native of Cyrene of the Pentapolis, converts several people of this city to Christianity. Thereupon, they demolish pagan statues.

3-4. Christ appears to him in a vision and exhorts him to head to Alexandria and continue his preaching ministry there. He travels by ship and finally arrives at the place called Bennidion (Βεννίδιον) [Mendion/Μένδιον in BHG 1036] in order to enter the city. He encounters a shoemaker who after their contact becomes a Christian. The shoemaker, named Anianos, invites Markos to his home, where the latter preaches the Gospel.

5. Because of Markos’ words and deeds against paganism, the men of the city (οἱ ἄνδρες τῆς πόλεως) decide to kill him. Markos, who is informed of their malicious plans, appoints Anianos as bishop, ordains three priests (Milioos, Sabinos and Kerdon), seven deacons and eleven other ecclesiastics, and then leaves the city to take refuge in the Pentapolis. During his stay there, he also ordains clerics and bishops. Two years later, Markos returns to Alexandria and is pleased with the erection of a Christian church in the area of the city called Boukolou (ἐν τοῖς καλουμένοις Βουκόλου).

6-7. While Christianity continues to gain ground, pagans try to find Markos and put an end to his preaching. Finally, on Easter Sunday, they locate him in the church and apprehend him. After dragging him through the streets with a rope around his neck, they commit him to prison until they decide how they should execute him.

8-9. An angel sent by God appears in prison and assures Markos that he will soon lead a life in heaven, while his relics will be kept safe. Indeed, the next day pagan people punish him by dragging him around the city until he dies.

10. At a place called 'the Angels' (Angeloi) (εἰς τοὺς καλουμένους Ἀγγέλους), his pagan enemies set his body on fire. A heavy storm breaks out, and the persecutors abandon the place through fear. Pious men collect his relics and transfer them to the place where they used to lead their prayers.

11. Christian people perform all the funerary rites in Alexandria, and the remains of Markos’ body are preserved as the first ‘treasure’ in the city (πρῶτον κημήλιον [sic] ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ).

12. Markos died in Alexandria on April 25, under the reign of Gaius Tiberius Caesar.

Text: AASS, April. III, xlvi–xlvii (3rd ed. xxxviii-xl).
Summary: C. Papavarnavas.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mark the Evangelist : S00293

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Other liturgical acts and ceremonies

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Anniversary of church/altar dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracles experienced by the saint Punishing miracle Miracles causing conversion

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Pagans Torturers/Executioners Angels Other lay individuals/ people shoemaker

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified


There are two Greek versions of this martyrdom narrative: the one summarised here (BHG 1035, edited in AASS) and another one (BHG 1036, edited in Patrologia Graeca), the content of which is very similar. All minor differences between these two versions are pinpointed and discussed by B.A. Pearson (2004: 101ff.). Both Greek versions are believed to date from the 5th century (Halkin 1971: 300). For the manuscript tradition, see: For the edition, see Bibliography.


The cult of Mark the Evangelist was practised in all the cities and locations mentioned in the text, but above all in Alexandria where the relics of Mark were preserved, and where our text was probably written (as also suggested by its detailed topographical references to the city). For a study focusing on these topographical references, presumably connected with the cult of the saint, see Pearson 2004, 102 ff. (cf. also Pearson 1986, 137-145). The martyrion of Mark also features prominently in the martyrdom account of *Petros (bishop and martyr of Alexandria, E06234).


Text: Acta Sanctorum, April. III, xlvi–xlvii (3rd ed. xxxviii-xl). (BHG 1035) Migne, J.P., Patrologia Graeca 115 (Paris, 1864), 164-169. (BHG 1036) Further reading: Halkin, F. "Saint Marc dans l'hagiographie byzantine," in: idem, Recherches et documents d'hagiographie Byzantine (Subsidia hagiographica 51; Brussels, 1971), 299-303. Pearson, B.A., "Earliest Christianity in Egypt: Some Observations," in: B.A. Pearson and J.B. Goehring (eds.), The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (Philadelphia, 1986), 137-145. Pearson, B.A., Gnosticism and Christianity in Roman and Coptic Egypt (New York, 2004), esp. 100 ff.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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