Saint Mark and Venice



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 San Marco? 

Who was he?

The Lion of St. Mark

St. Mark and the shoemaker

The martyrdom

The dream of St Mark

Stealing the body of St. Mark 

The posthumous miracles

The saving of Venice

Venetian images

Who's really there?


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