Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of Notaries, Venice, Barristers
Saint Mark’s Story
Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. When St. Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark’s mother.
Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul’s refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas’s insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.
The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus’s rejection by humanity while being God’s triumphant envoy. Probably written for gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark’s Gospelis the gradual manifestation of a “scandal”: a crucified Messiah.
Evidently a friend of Mark–calling him “my son”—Peter is only one of this Gospel‘s sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots), and the Church at Antioch (largely gentile).
Like another Gospel writer Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mark 14:51-52).
Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.
A winged lion is Mark’s symbol. The lion derives from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures to the evangelists.
Basilica di San Marco
(Saint Mark’s Basilica)
Piazza San Marco
30124 Venice, Italy
*In 828 two Venetian merchants stole the relics of St Mark from Alexandria and brought them to Venice.
A popular legend holds that the relics were hid in a barrel of pork so that they would not be discovered.
These relics are now located within the main altar of this church.
The Pala d’Oro is located just behind this altar on the back side of the retable.
St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral
Al Abbasiya, Cairo, Egypt
*In 1968 Pope Paul VI gave some of the Venetian relics of St Mark to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria.
They are now kept at this church in Cairo.
*A similar situation happened in 1973 when some relics of St Athanasius
were likewise returned to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria.
These relics are also kept at this same church.
Münster St. Maria und Markus
(Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Mark)
78479 Reichenau, Germany
*For many centuries the island of Reichenau served as a very important monastic center in Medieval Europe.
This island rests upon Lake Constance in southern Germany near the Liechtenstein border.
In 1803 the island was secularized leading to the destruction of many of its churches and religious buildings.
*Relics of St Mark were brought to this island from Venice in the year 830 AD.
This was just two years after Venetian merchants smuggled these relics out of Egypt.
Today these relics rest within this newly constructed church.
St Mark's Chapel in Jerusalem
Old City of Jerusalem
This was the house of Mary mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12)
Romantic San Marco Festival in Venice!
St Mark’s Day is a local public holiday in Venice so many businesses and public offices are closed.
One tradition associated with St Mark’s festival is the Festival of the Blooming Rose, symbolizing love and romance.
The custom of giving a rose bud (bocolo) to a loved one is still practiced today.
Going on a gondola ride and watching the gondola races are tradition too.
Sagra della Ricotta in Vizzini!
On this day in Sicily is the Ricotta Festival!
What to Eat!
Wine, Seafood, Black Risotto, Vegetable Lasagna or Pasta, Pizza, & Gelato!
Although now prepared all over Italy, the delicious gnocchi is a culinary tradition dating all the way back to the 16th century and connected to the festivities of Carnival. Exactly prepared from the recipe handed down from my family in Northern Italy gnocchi is made of potatoes, flour and eggs and then served with either melted butter, cheese, and sage, or other creative sauces. If you have never had gnocchi in ‘quattro formaggio’ (four cheeses) you have not tasted Italian culinary bliss!
In Italian meals, gnocchi makes a delicious ‘i primi’ (first dish), but I love it as a main dish too! I adore all gnocchi! So Good!
Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Cheese
2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Bake in a microwave oven at high power for 10 minutes, then flip the potatoes and microwave for 5 minutes longer. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Alternatively, bake the potatoes in the oven for about 1 hour, until tender.
Halve the potatoes. Scoop the flesh into a ricer and rice the potatoes. Transfer 2 slightly packed cups of riced potatoes to a bowl. Stir in the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the 1/2 cup of flour; stir until a stiff dough forms. Knead the dough gently until smooth but slightly sticky.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper and dust with flour. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 pieces, rolling each into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges; transfer to the baking sheet.
In a large, deep skillet of simmering salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then simmer for 2 minutes longer. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Using a slotted spoon, add the gnocchi to the butter. Season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.
*Gnocchi always taste amazing with a Sunday Sauce! Yum!
Fritelle alla Veneziane
Considered to be the national dessert of the Veneto province, Fritelle are small, fried, sweet doughnuts made of flour, eggs, sugar, lemon, and Marsala. They can also be made with a variety of extra ingredients including ‘frutta’ (fruit),cream, powdered sugar, or zabaglione. Venetians have exceptional expertise with pastries and ‘i dolci’ (sweets). Fritelle have been the traditional sweet of Carnival dating all the way back to the Renaissance!
Fritelle alla Veneziane
Wheat Flour doppio zero 00 500 g, sifted
4 tablespoons of Sugar
2 large organic Eggs
150 g of dried Raisins
60 g of Pinenuts zest one organic Lemon
25 g of Fresh Yeast
1 pinch of Salt 1/4 cup warm Water
1/4 cup Grappa (substitute Rum if necessary)
Peanut Oil for deep frying or Lard
Soak the raisins in the Grappa (or Rum). Break up the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of sugar and set aside. Put the sifted wheat flour and salt in a large bowl and mix in milk. Add the eggs and mix well. While stirring, add the yeast - water mixture and if you see that the dough is to hard, add an additional 2/3 cup milk. Continue stirring until smooth. This should be a very thick, doughy batter. Add the raisins, pine seeds, and remaining grappa and mix well. Cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth and place it in a warm spot. Allow the frittelle batter to rise for about 2 or 3 hours.
Fill a saucepan half full of peanut oil or lard.
Heat the oil. To test the temperature of oil, use a wooden toothpick: when the oil is ready, bubbles will come up from toothpick (remember do not heat oil to the smoke point: this is dangerous, and it will burn the frittelle).
Wet a tablespoon with cold water. Scoop up the batter, and push the batter off the spoon into the hot oil (remember the frittelle should not be too big). Repeat with 4 or 5 more spoonfuls of batter. Cook the frittelle until it has an golden brown color, turning it once or twice during cooking.
Remove the frittelle from the oil and drain on a paper towel. When the frittelle have cooled, sprinkle them with powdered sugar and place on a platter.