Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Mark, Pope and Confessor

Article

A.D. 336. Saint Mark was by birth a Roman, and served God with such fervour among the clergy of that church, that, advancing continually in sincere humility and the knowledge and sense of his own weakness and imperfections, he strove every day to surpass himself in the fervour of his charity and zeal, and in the exercise of all virtues. The persecution ceased in the West, upon the abdication of Dioclesian and Maximian, in the beginning of the year 305; but was revived for a short time by Maxentius in 312. Saint Mark abated nothing of his watchfulness, but endeavoured rather to redouble his zeal during the peace of the church; knowing that if men sometimes cease openly to persecute the faithful, the devil never allows them any truce, and his snares are generally most to be feared in the time of a calm. The saint contributed very much to advance the service of God during the pontificate of Saint Sylvester; after whose demise he was himself placed in the apostolic chair on the 18th of January, 336. He held that dignity only eight months and twenty days, dying on the 7th of October following. According to the Pontifical published by Anastasius, he built two churches, one on the Ardeatine Way, where he was afterwards buried; another within the walls, near the capitol. He was interred in the Ardeatine Way, in the cemetery of Balbina, a holy martyr buried there. It was originally called of Prætextatus, probably from some illustrious person of that name, and was situate without the Ardeatine gate, not far from the cemetery of Calixtus, on the Appian Way. Saint Mark had very much beautified and adorned this burial-place, out of respect to the martyrs there interred; and he being buried there, it from that time bore his name. Pope Damasus, in his epitaph, extols his extraordinary disinterestedness and contempt of all earthly things, and his remarkable spirit of prayer, by which he drew down on the people abundant spiritual blessings. His name occurs in the Liberian Calendar, compiled soon after his death, and in all other Martyrologies of the Western church. A church bore his name in Rome in the fifth century. His remains were translated into it by the order of Gregory VII. The pontificals mention that the church was repaired by Adrian I, Gregory IV., and Paul II. This last pope built near it a palace which was the summer residence of the popes till Sixtus V. preferred the Quirinal hill, or Monte Cavallo.

It was by constant watchfulness over themselves, by assiduous self denial, and humble prayer, that all the saints triumphed over their spiritual enemies. They never laid down their arms. A Christian ought to be afraid of no enemy more than himself, whom he carries always about with him, and whom he is not able to flee from. He therefore never ceases to cry out to God: Who will preserve me from falling through myself! Not my own strength. Unless thou, O Lord, art my light and support, I watch in vain.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Mark, Pope and Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 August 2014. Web. 16 November 2018. <>