St. Mark’s Church stands over the traditional site of the first Christian house of prayer in the Holy City of Jerusalem, and belongs to one of the most ancient Christian denominations in the Holy Land: the Syriac Orthodox.
The sanctuary occupies a building some eight centuries old, which is above an even older structure. A tradition developed in antiquity that the event that many Christians mark on nearby Mount Zion – the first speaking in tongues (Acts 2:1) – took place at John Mark’s house (Acts 12:13).
An inscription in the sanctuary dating to the sixth century, reads: “this is the house of Mary mother of John Mark.” It also says that the house was destroyed in 70 AD, but was rebuilt and used for prayer just two years later. The inscription is in Syriac, a language akin to the Aramaic that Jesus spoke, and that is still spoken by the community.