The Monk Mark

Commemorated on April 5

      The Monk Mark was born in Athens. He related about his life to Abba Serapion, who by the will of God visited him before his death.
      In his youth he had studied philosophy. After the death of his parents, Saint Mark withdrew into Egypt and settled into a cave of the Thracian Mount (in Ethiopia). The monk spent ninety-five years in seclusion and during this while not only did he not see an human face, but not even a beast or bird. The first thirty years were for the Monk Mark the most difficult time. Barefoot and bedraggled, he suffered in winter from the cold, and in summer from the heat. The sparse wilderness plants served him for food, and sometimes he was reduced to eat the dust and drink bitter sea-water. Unclean spirits chased after the Monk Mark, promising to drown him in the sea, or if they caught hold of him to drag him off down from the mountain, with shouts of: "Depart from our land! From the beginning of the world no one amongst mankind hath come hither why hast thou dared to come?"
      After thirty years of tribulation, Divine grace came upon the ascetic. Angels brought him food, and on his body there grew long hair, which protected him from the cold and heat. "I beheld, said he to the Monk Serapion, the likeness of the Divine paradise and in it the prophets of God Elias and Enoch, and everything that I sought, the Lord set forth to me". During the time of his conversation with Abba Serapion the Monk Mark enquired, how things stood in the world with the law of Christ, and whether persecutions against Christians still continued. Hearing, that idol-worship had long since ceased, the saint rejoiced and asked: "Are there now amidst the world saints working miracles, as the Lord did speak of in His Gospel: `If ye have faith even as a grain of mustard seed, ye will say to this mountain: move hither from there, and it wilt move, and nothing shalt be impossible for you' (Mt. 17: 20)". At this moment, as the saint pronounced these words, the mountain moved from its place 5,000 cubits (approximately 2.5 kilometers) and was shifted nigh towards the sea. The Monk Mark saw that the mountain had moved, and he turned to it: "I did not order thee to move from thine place, but did converse with a brother; wherefore go thou to thine own place!" After this the mountain actually returned to its own place. Abba Serapion fell down in fright. The Monk Mark took him up by the hand and asked: "Hast thou not then seen suchlike miracles in thy lifetime?" "No, father" answered Starets Serapion. Then the Monk Mark wept bitterly and said: "Woe unto the earth, since upon it live Christians in name only, and not in deeds".
      After this the Monk Mark invited Abba Serapion to a meal. An Angel brought the food. Abba Serapion said, that never had he eaten such tasty food nor drank such sweet water. "Brother Serapion, answered the Monk Mark, didst thou see, what beneficence God doth send His servants! In all mine days there was sent from God only one breadloaf and one fish, and now on account of thee He hath doubled the meal and sent us two loaves and two fishes. By suchlike meal the Lord God hath nourished me during all the course of time after my first sufferings from evil".
      Before his end, the Monk Mark raised up prayers for the salvation of Christians, the earth and everything in the world living upon it in the love of Christ. He gave final instruction s to Abba Serapion to bury him in the cave and cover over the entrance to it. Abba Serapion was a witness of how the soul of the one hundred thirty year old elder the Monk Mark, was conveyed to Heaven (+ 400).
      After the burial of the saint, two Angels in the form of hermits guided Abba Serapion into the inner wilderness to the great Starets John. Abba Serapion recounted to the monks of this monastery about the life and end of the Monk Mark.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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