In Venice, there is no escaping St Mark. Images
of the saint, or of his trade mark winged lion, appear on pillars, over
doorways, and on the facades of all the most important buildings.
This is a city that takes its adopted patron saint seriously.
As with so many early Christian
stories, it is impossible to sort out legend from reality. In the case of
Mark, we know little of his life, but the myths continued to grow; if we
go along with them, he was far busier after his death than he ever was
when he was alive.
It is in Venice, where faith and politics
were never compartmentalised, that the legends grew most strongly. In this
study, I'm going to look at these legends, explore why they were so
important to the city, and look at how they were interpreted in art,
mainly, but not entirely, by Venetian artists. Finally I'll pose the
question - whose remains really rest under that altar in the Basilica of