July 15, 2010

Saint Mark the Deaf

St. Mark the Deaf (Feast Day - January 2)

We know very little of Saint Mark the Deaf (some calendars have him as Mark the Deaf Mute) other than what is written in the Synaxarion probably from the 13th century for his feast day on January 2nd:

"Saint Mark the Deaf was an ascetic that lived a venerable life and died in peace."

The following iambic verses are written as well:

"Mark did not hear an earthly word, 
And before he left the earth, his earthly ears were extracted."

In Rethymno, Crete there exists the only church dedicated to Saint Mark the Deaf not only in all of Greece, but in the entire world. It is located on the grounds of the Holy Monastery of Saint George Arsaniou. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited this chapel in 2003 and served here a Divine Liturgy, praising the fact that the Divine Liturgy was done in sign language.

Though Orthodoxy has many deaf saints, Saint Mark the Deaf has become the patron saint of the deaf. Among other saints who were deaf, there is St. Cadoc (Cadfan) Llankarvansky (+580), St. Drogo (Drew) (+12th cent.), St. Meriadoc (Meredith) (7th cent.), and St Owen Ruensky (Eugene) (+684). Other Orthodox churches in Greece and throughout the world also have services in sign language as well, especially in Russia. Among them is Simonov Monastery in Moscow.