Saints of the Day – Mark of Arethusa

main article for Saint Mark of ArethusaArticle

Died c.362. Bishop Mark of Arethusa on Mount Lebanon, Syria, one of those caught in the web of unfortunate history. Mark was present at the synod of Sirmium where he produced a creed for which he was unjustly accused of Arianism by Baronius, who excluded his name from the Roman Martyrology nor is he venerated in the Western Church. He had been long engaged in the errors and intrigues of the Semi-Arians; but the encomiums given him by Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Theodoret, and Sozomen, when they relate his sufferings, show that towards the end of the reign of Conmantius, he joined in the orthodox communion.

When Emperor Constantius and his eldest son were killed by his uncle, Julius Constantius, the two younger sons, Gallus and Julian, narrowly escaped death. Bishop Mark concealed and provided for Julian, later to be known as the Apostate. When Julian ascended the throne, he commanded that the Christians rebuild the temples that they had demolished. On the authority of Constantius, Mark had destroyed a magnificent, highly esteemed temple and built a church in its place. When the pagans again found themselves in authority and sought revenge upon him, Mark went into hiding.

From his refuge he learned that members of his flock were suffering in his stead, so he returned and surrendered himself. He was seized and dragged through the streets by his hair, stripped, scourged, and finally handed over to schoolboys. Like Saint Cassian of Imola, Saint Mark is said to have been maimed, then stabbed (to death?) by iron pens.

The myth continues that he survived many other tortures and insults, and continued to refuse to rebuild their temple, because it would be impious to contribute to such idolatrous work. At length the fury of the people was turned into admiration of his patience, and they set him at liberty; and several of them afterwards begged of him to instruct them in the faith that was capable of inspiring such a resolution. Having spent the remainder of his life in the faithful discharge of the duties of his station, he died in peace under Jovian or Valens.

Myths and innuendo aside, the Bollandists have vindicated Saint Mark of any complicity in semi-Arianism. They state that he actually died a martyr under Julian the Apostate (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Husenbeth).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 May 2020. Web. 18 September 2021. <>