St Mark's Basilica - An Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

We know now that more than one knight who went to the Holy Lands ostensibly to "rout out the infidel" actually had a more pragmatic agenda: they brought home loot, everything they could physically handle plus anything more they could load on pack animals and/or enlist the aid of a squire or a fellow traveler to help them haul away.
In that context, therefore, it's neither very surprising nor out of the realm of possibility that one particular group of mercenaries saw a chance for a real gold mine to come their way-if not the Holy Grail, then a pretty good second choice!
Thus it was in 829, the story goes, that two merchants smuggled the body of St. Mark from its original burial place in Alexandria, Egypt, to Venice, upon which point the Doge promptly declared the church as the apostle's official burial place and appropriated him as the new patron saint. This in and of itself wasn't a problem; a town could, after all, have more than one patron saint-and no doubt, they reasoned, where better would God want to bestow such an honor than Italy?
However, declaring a saint's "official" burial place to be in one spot, when a substantial number of Egyptian citizens could staunchly disagree and even prove otherwise . . . now, there was a sticky political issue. The people of Venice were, after all, a godly sort who couldn't live a lie for too long . . . and fortunately, they didn't have to.
Where the tale sprung up, history doesn't tell us exactly. But spring up it did, a story entirely plausible to the pious people of the time, and one that honored Venice even more in the bargain. Seems in the fourth century-or so the holy men said-Mark was in fact in northern Italy, visiting the Venetian Lagoon, when he met an angel. The angel greeted him, "Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist." Since Mark's honored position as an evangelist was thereby approved and officially recognized by God himself, it stood to reason that Venice had been preordained as well as his final resting place, designated so by the angel. Would anyone argue with God at that point? Not likely, especially since the Doge so clearly believed God would have it no other way. And so, Mark became the second official patron saint of Venice.
As for what happened to Theodore-no, the Venetians didn't offer him to Alexandria in a sort of godly "exchange program." What they did was erect two statues, one for Mark and one for Theodore, in the area adjacent to the church. This brought about a unique character to the whole piazza, having on one hand the Doge's residence, on the other the house of God, and in the middle . . . a house of justice. Indeed, prisons were located in the nether regions below the Doge's house, and the Bridge of Sighs was later so named because prisoners believed as they crossed that bridge to the dungeons, they might well never see the beauty of the lagoon and its islands again. But long before that, once Venice had its two patrons on hand to oversee citizens' conduct, the piazza soon became a center of not only man's justice but God's. Convicted criminals were executed between these two saints' images, and soon parents even began to use the words "your fate will be between the saints" to discipline unruly children (www.ertrav.com/pathways/html/sanmarco.asp)!
But did the Venetians themselves, even while bestowing all this honor on both their patrons, feel a lingering guilt? Is this what prompted the "spare no expense" approach to building this house of worship? They may have, if one takes the approach that taking St. Mark's body from Alexandria was little more than another example of "sacred plunder" about which (no matter what the Doge says) one feels a little uneasy.
However, Mark's body may not have been plunder at all; it may, indeed, have been a legitimate relic, and one taken with the most altruistic of intentions.
When the evangelist first died, early Christians had to fight against the Alexandrian custom of cremation to prevent his remains from going up in smoke. No sooner had that battle been won but Muslims took control of the area, and many Crusaders honestly believed those same Muslims were about to desecrate holy ground-so they wanted to get Mark out of there to avoid the unthinkable (http://www.photo.net/italy/venice-san-marco). In order to do so, history recounts, they hid the remains between slices of pork; since pork was not only considered unclean by Jews but forbidden to Muslims, the inspectors wouldn't go near it, and the smuggling mission-holy or otherwise-was a success.
Even after all that travail to secure the evangelist's remains, however, they were still believed lost in the fire of 976 . . . until they "miraculously reappeared" when the new church was consecrated in 1094. Miracle, or political manipulation? Many citizens would never know, and more than likely we won't, either.
In light of the treasure we still have on hand to behold-one that has withstood more than its share of trouble to stand today-perhaps it's not important to know which story is authentic. Perhaps motivations and secret sins are less important than the labor of love that is St. Mark's and all it stands for. Perhaps all that really matters is what we can see before us, a treasure that has lasted hundreds of years-one that uplifts the spirit as well as the senses. Perhaps that, in and of itself, is sufficient proof that indeed "the winged lion" still watches over Venice with a special fondness.

Works Consulted

Artifice, Inc. and Matthews, Kevin. St. Mark's - Venice, Italy - Great Buildings Online.
1994 - 2002. <>.
Basilica. <>
Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica). <>.
Basilica di San Marco, Venice.
<>.
Columbus Publishing. St. Mark's Basilica. 2001. <>.
eTrav Pathways - Basilica of San Marco. 1999 -2002. eTrav Educational Travel Alliance. <>.
Hillman Quality Publications. St. Mark's Basilica and Campanile. <>.
ThinkQuest Library of Entries.
<>
Web Gallery of Art, Kren, Emil and Marx, Daniel. A Scene from the Life of Saint Mark by Paolo Venezian. <>.
Web Gallery of Art, Kren, Emil and Marx, Daniel. Labours of the Months (detail) by Gothic Sculptor. <>.
Zang, Ulla. Venice San Marco. 2000, 2001, 2002. Photo.net.
http://www.photo.net/italy/venice-san-marco[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"St Mark's Basilica - An" (2002, February 22) Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/st-mark-basilica-an-55797

"St Mark's Basilica - An" 22 February 2002. Web.29 November. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/st-mark-basilica-an-55797>

"St Mark's Basilica - An", 22 February 2002, Accessed.29 November. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/st-mark-basilica-an-55797

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • St Madeleine Church Roman Architecture Romanesque Art

    St. Madeleine Church Roman Architecture Romanesque art and architecture was the true depiction of mediaeval Christian art and was in full boom in the 12th century. The term Romanesque, points to the principal source of the style and the buildings of the Roman Empire. In addition to classical elements, however, Roman church architecture is derived from components of Byzantine and Eastern origin. French Architecture French Romanesque architecture is characterized by (French Architecture) 1 various

  • Cultural and Construction History of

    Thomas Aquinas led the move away from the Platonic and Augustinian and toward Aristotelianism and "developed a philosophy of mind by writing that the mind was at birth a tabula rasa ('blank slate') that was given the ability to think and recognize forms or ideas through a divine spark" (Haskins viii). By 1200 there were reasonably accurate Latin translations of the main works of Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Archimedes, and

  • Humanities the Renaissance Period Changed the World

    Humanities The Renaissance period changed the world, after the disasters, indecencies and barbarism of the dark ages it was a hope of light for mankind. It gave human beings the cultural upheaval; flourished in Europe it steadily transformed the way of living. The elements introduced and worked on in that era are still present in our daily lives, being enjoyed and cherished more or less by every human being. Its power

  • Architecture H Project Dome of Florence

    Indeed, the first use of the term 'architect' as against 'master mason' in France dates from 1511 and reflects the increasing influence of Italian ideas" ( P88). Heller goes on to state that "…humanist learning in architecture not only raised the status of the architect, it also helped to foster a new division of labor in construction…"( Heller 88). 1.4. Significance The innovative design that was exhibited in this construction was

  • Baroque Four Baroque 1600 1750 Projects

    In this regard it should also be noted that the architect faced a number of obvious constraints in his design of the Square. These constraints were from existing structures such as the Vatican Palace as well as the granite fountain. To incorporate these constraints into his design " Bernini made the fountain appear to be one of the foci of the ovato tondo embraced by his colonnades and eventually matched

  • High Renaissance Bramante and the

    The second stage was of the Ionic order and with windows, rising to the level of the first apartments of the papal palace and of those of the Belvedere; to form subsequently a loggia more than four hundred paces on the side towards Rome and another towards the wood, with the valley between, so that it was necessary to bring all the water of the Belvedere and to erect

  • Vatican II a Survey of

    Of course, such hurried indifference was seen within the Council from start to finish. The primary order of business was to set the sequence of schemas to be discussed. Complementary to this business was the matter of choosing bishops and periti to sit on commissions for the drafting of schemas. Though the proposed schemas had already been drafted, the liberal element was able to persuade John XXIII to abandon them since


Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved