St. Mark, a Roman, the son of Pricus, succeeded St. Sylvester as pope on
January 18, 336. If an epitaph composed by Pope St. Damasus refers to Pope
Mark, as the archeologist De Rossi believes, St. Mark was a man who "filled
with the love of God, despised the world . . . the guardian of justice, a
true friend of Christ."
Emperor Constantine continued to show his generosity to the Church, for he
gave to St. Mark two basilicas and the estates necessary to maintain them.
One of these, the Church of St. Mark, still exists, though its present
structure does not go back to the fourth century. The other was a cemetery
church in the Catacomb of Balbina, a cemetery which lies between the Appian
and Ardeatine roads.
St. Mark is said to have decreed that a new pope should be consecrated by
the bishop of Ostia. This is quite probable, for this custom is very
ancient. He is also said to have decreed that the bishop of Ostia should
receive the pallium. The pallium is a vestment of white wool which a pope
wears as a symbol of the fullness of his apostolic power and an archbishop
wears as a symbol of his participation in that power. An archbishop may not
exercise any metropolitan prerogative until he has received the pallium
from the pope.
St. Mark died on October 7, 336, after a pontificate of less than a year.
He is buried in the cemetery of Balbina, a place he seems to have chosen
for himself. His feast is kept on October 7.Excerpted from "Popes
Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.