Hi, everyone! On April 25th the Christianity celebrates the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, and therefore we pay here a simple tribute to this saint, one of the four evangelists, besides showing some invocations of his image in the city.
Mark – or John Mark, according to some authors – was born around 10 B.C. and died as a martyr in Alexandria on April, 25th, 68. He was disciple of apostles Peter and Paul, and would have been with the last during an apostolic journey. He is commonly represented in Christian iconography wearing an oriental tunic, carrying a book, and mainly accompanied by a lion sometimes winged – a reference to the voice of Saint John the Baptist echoing in the desert the principle of Mark´s Gospel. Sometimes, as we will check below, only the lion is pictured.
In Rio de Janeiro, the parish devoted to the saint is located at the neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca. As a modern construction, however, it lacks external decorations.
In my files there are only three façades in which we can find the saint – two churches and a building, all in Downtown Rio.
- the Forense Building (Edifício Forense), former headquarters of the American Bible Society (Antiga Sociedade Bíblica Americana), at 299 Erasmo Braga Avenue, about which we have already dedicated a post here;
- the magnificent dome of Candelária Church and its eight sculptures, four of them depicting historical characters and four depicting allegorical ones, made by Portuguese stonemason José Cesário de Sales;
- the unique façade of the Santa Cruz dos Militares Church, whose sculptures represent the four evangelists. Molded in Italian Carrara marble, they were ordered in 1926 to replace the original ones, made on wood by Mestre Valentim and presently kept in the National Historic Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional).
In American Bible Society´s building, with the exception of Saint Matthew, the evangelists were all replaced by their attributed animals. Saint John is the eagle, Saint Luke is the ox and Saint Mark, as we saw, is the lion (Figure 1).
Standing over the dome of Nossa Senhora da Candelária Church, Saint Mark the Evangelist was represented by the artist in entire body, carrying the book with his left hand and stroking the lion with the right (Figure 2).
In Santa Cruz dos Militares Church´s façade, two sculptures are positioned at the ground floor – Saint John and Saint Luke – while the other two lie at the superior level – Saint Mark and Saint Matthew. Saint Mark is, once more, accompanied by an imposing lion at his right and carries the book with both hands. At his right hand – broken by weather action – he carries a dip pen (Figure 3).
Alves, J. Os Santos de Cada Dia. São Paulo: Paulinas, 2008.
Loredo, Wanda Martins. Iconografia Religiosa. Dicionário Prático de Identificação. Rio de Janeiro: Pluri Edições, 2002.
Tavares, Jorge Campos. Dicionário de Santos. Porto: Lello e Irmão, 1990.
https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A3o_Marcos, visit on April 11th, 2018.