Monday, April 25, 2011

Feast of St. Mark

Today, April 25th, is the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist. The author of the gospel of Mark is thought to have been killed in Alexandria, having been dragged through the street until he was dead. Mark may have been the first bishop of Alexandria. Relics of his body may be in San Marco Basilica in Venice, but the true disposition of his remains is not known with certainty. His body and remains are objects of devotion, and may educe emotional oaths from some, like Prince John in Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe".

'The figure of Rebecca might indeed have compared with the proudest beauties of England, even though it had been judged by as shrewd a connoisseur as Prince John. Her form was exquisitely symmetrical, and was shewn to advantage by a sort of Eastern dress, which she wore according to the fashion of the females of her nation. Her turban of yellow silk suited well with the darkness of her complexion. The brilliancy of her eyes, the superb arch of her eyebrows, her well-formed aquiline nose, her teeth as white as pearl, and the profusion of her sable tresses which, each arranged in its own little spiral of twisted curls, fell down upon as much of a lovely neck and bosom as a simarre of the richest Persian silk, exhibiting flowers in their natural colours embossed upon a purple ground, permitted to be visible—all these constituted a combination of loveliness, which yielded not to the most beautiful of the maidens who surrounded her. It is true that of the golden and pearl-studded clasps, which closed her vest from the throat to the waist, the three uppermost were left unfastened on account of the heat, which something enlarged the prospect to which we allude. A diamond necklace, with pendants of inestimable value, were by this means also made more conspicuous. The feather of an ostrich, fastened in her turban by an agriffe set with brilliants, was another distinction of the beautiful Jewess, scoffed and sneered at by the proud dames who sat above her, but secretly envied by those who affected to deride them.

" By the bald scalp of Abraham," said Prince John, " yonder Jewess must be the very model of that perfection, whose charms drove frantic the wisest king that ever lived ! What sayest thou, Prior Aymer ?—By the Temple of that wise king, which our wiser brother Richard proved unable to recover, she is the very Bride of the Canticles ! "

" The Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley,"— answered the Prior, in a sort of snuffling tone; " but your Grace must remember she is still but a Jewess."

" Ay," added Prince John, without heeding him, " and there is my Mammon of unrighteousness too—the Marquis of Marks, the Baron of Byzants, contesting for place with penniless dog, whose threadbare cloaks have not a single cross in their pouches to keep the devil from dancing there. By the body of St. Mark, my prince of supplies, with his lovely Jewess, shall have a place in the gallery!—'What is she, Isaac ? thy wife or thy daughter, that Eastern houri that thou lockest under thy arm as thou wouldst thy treasure-casket ? "


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