Mark is the author of the second gospel or the book has been named after him. We don’t know much about his youth. He was the traveling companion of Paul and Barnabas on the first of Paul’s missionary journeys. According to tradition, Mark, after he left Paul, journeyed to Rome with Peter and as Peter’s secretary wrote his Gospel. The material was supposedly given him directly by Peter. Today scholars dispute this version. Yet Mark’s Gospel is the earliest in existence and the shortest.
According to legend, while Mark was preaching along the shores of the Adriatic, the ship in which he was traveling was caught in a great storm and driven into the costal island and lagoons. There an angel appeared to Mark, saying: “On this site, a great city will arise in your honor.” Four hundred years later people fleeing from Attila the Hun established a city there and called it Venice. Mark is also said to have traveled to Libya and then to Alexandria to preach the gospel. In that city he died a martyr’s death. Several centuries later sailors brought the Evangelist’s body back to Venice and there a cathedral was built in his honor. Mark thus became the patron saint of Venice which adopted his emblem, the lion, as its own. The return of Mark’s body to the city is a favorite subject of Venetian painters.
The winged lion on the bottom of the window refers to the royal dignity of Christ, the Lion of Judah. As a result there is a crown on the head of the animal. The lion also may portray force and ferociousness. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus comes across as a strong personality challenging the people of his time.
Usually Mark is portrayed as a young man. In our rendition he is older and wears a heavy robe, certainly not emblematic of a person who journeyed a lot. Such a vestment would have been a heavy barrier to a person who was on the go continuously.