Yesterday was the Feast of St. Mark, so in honor of my namesake I spent a few minutes trying to find out a little bit about him. It's not easy: the historical record is quite sketchy. Some of this is probably true: he is commonly understood to be the John Mark of Acts and his mother was Mary (not the Mary) and she had some meetings of the first Christians in her house in Jerusalem. He may have been a cousin or nephew of Barnabus. Paul thought he was unreliable (Sounds familiar!), but later changed his opinion, coming to view him as quite dependable. He is believed to have been responsible for bringing Christianity to Alexandria, where he was martyred, tied to a horse and dragged around the streets until he was dead. (I really want to visit Alexandria some day, and hopefully I will be able to do so without being tied to any horses.) He is symbolized with the lion because his gospel, the earliest, starts with the cry of John the Baptist from the wilderness. Ok, now the cool stuff: in the ninth century two Venetian merchants retrieved Mark's remains from Alexandria and safeguarded the operation from overly curious Muslims by wrapping the remains in pork! Ah ha, no wonder I've always loved ham! Strangely, according to tradition, those inventive but incompetent merchants forgot Mark's head! Many centuries later, the head got lost (Sounds familiar again!), but eventually it turned up in Rome. (How convenient!) In 1968 Pope Paul VI gave Coptic Christians part of Mark's head back (!!!), and they joyfully celebrate its return to Alexandria every year on November 10th!! I think, the story gets complicated here. (See photo.) Now there's a pilgrimage I'd like to make! And how about this other image, above. I haven't been able to find out anything yet about its authorship, but I like the lighthouse in the background. Kind of like me right here, walking by the Farola. Go Marksie! And according to the website "Orthodox America" (watch out!), after being tortured for a day by the evil pagans, Mark was visited first by an angel, then by Jesus himself. Cool! (I can relate, kind of: back in college I did have a psychedelic hallucination once, and it involved a lion! This is true, but it's another story.) Poor Mark, I bet torture could make just about anyone hallucinate. Now, my only question is, given that Mark died from being dragged around behind a horse, I doubt he was in any condition to share his experiences. He sure didn't have a chance to write about them. From what I gather looking at European painting, bishops in medieval times were very prone to visions and other celestial visits during which they were told all kinds of things related to early church history. So, you can't just make it up; at the least, you've got to have a dream. I don't know why, but I've read that if you're having relationship difficulties, pray to St. Mark. And why do I not get as much work done as I should? Because I haven't been praying to Mark's head!
Finally, speaking of dreams, we'll call this Dream Sequence #43: It's the top of the 36th inning at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lead the Yankess 8 to 5. The bases are loaded and Alex Rodriguez is at the plate. Two outs, full count. The sun is rising as a deep fog begins to lift. At the top of the inning almost no one had noticed a historic substitution: a young woman just called up from who knows where, Rocío De Málaga, jogged out to left field. Those fans who aren't asleep think it's a stunt, a notion reinforced by the fact that instead of cleats, her dainty feet are wrapped in a pair of red hightop Chucky Taylors. What is this girl thinking! Let's get serious! And what's this, her jersey isn't tucked in and it's way too big in the back. Looks like a wedding dress with a long train. Nonetheless, this is The First Female to ever play in a major league game! Timmy Wakefield is on the mound, mug of coffee at his feet. The knuckler doesn't knuckle and there goes an incredible drive to left, a real rocket headed over the wall. But wait, Rocío takes a few steps back, turns, jumps, up, up, up, oh goodness, she keeps going up and snags the drive just as it's set to land in the top row of the monster seats. Yowzer! The fans holler, Ro-ciii-o, Ro-ciii-o! Sox have held on for a big, big win. In the clubhouse after the game, asked about the Chucky Ts, Rocío told reporters she had a hunch she might have to jump.