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San Marco di Aretusa Vescovo – 29 marzo

San Marco di Aretusa Vescovo

29 marzo

+ Aretusa, Siria, 364

San Marco, che fu vescovo di Aretusa in Siria, al tempo dell’eresia ariana mai si allontanò dalla vera fede. Sotto l’imperatore Giuliano l’Apostata subì atroci torture, ma morì poi per cause naturali. San Gregorio Nazianzeno lo definì “uomo straordinario ed anziano santissimo”.

Martirologio Romano: Commemorazione di san Marco, vescovo di Aretusa in Siria, che ai tempi della controversia ariana mai deviò dalla retta fede e sotto l’imperatore Giuliano l’Apostata subì violente vessazioni; fu salutato da san Gregorio Nazianzeno come personalità insigne e anziano di vita santissima.

Nulla conosciamo della giovinezza di tale santo, che regnante Costantino il Grande fu nominato vescovo di Aretusa, odierna Er Rastan in Siria. Per sua intercessione pare fu guaritò il futoro Giuliano l’Aposta, allora giovane principe. In quel tempo imperversava l’arianesimo e gli eretici erano convinti di aver guadagnato anche Marco alla loro causa: nel 343 infatti egli non venne deposto dal concilio di Sardica poiché parve scendere a patti con l’errore per la sua debolezza di carattere e per più di dieci anni mantenne un atteggiamento equivoco. Marco nel 351 era con gli pseudo-ariani al concilio di Sirmio, ove presentò una nuova formula di fede redatta in lingua greca che fu giudicatasospetta piuttosto che assolutamente eretica, secondo alcuni però risalirebbe a qualche anno dopo. E’ cosa comunque certa che verso il 360 Marco di Aretusa tornò a pieno titolo nell’ortodossia.

L’anno seguente Giuliano l’Apostata ascese al trono imperiale e promosse la restaurazione del paganesimo, con conseguenti misure vessatorie contro la Chiesa. Marco che ad Aretusa aveva fatto distruggere un tempio dedicato agli idoli, temette allora per la propria incolumità e fuggì. Quando gli giunse la notizia che alcuni ecclesiastici erano stati arrestati, non esitò a tornare in città per guidare il suo gregge. Rifiutatosi fermamente di ricostruire il tempio distrutto, fu allora imprigionato e torturato: la costanza nella fede ed il coraggo dimostrato nel sopportare le sofferenze cui fu sottoposto suscitarono l’ammirazione dei suoi persecutori, che infine si decisero a liberarlo. Soppravvissuto agli atroci tormenti, si dedicò all’evangelizzazione dei pagani ed morì per causa naturali nel 364.

Fu iscritto come “confessore della fede” nei menologi e nei sinassari bizantini, mentre il Cardinal Baronio preferì non inserirlo nel Martyrologium Romanum per il suo passato a stretto contatto con gli ariani. Il grande San Gregorio Nazianzeno definisce San Marco di Aretusa “uomo notevole e assai santo vegliardo”, nota che gli ha meritato in tempi recenti un riconoscimento della sua santità anche da parte della Chiesa catolica. I Bollandisti, per i patimenti subiti, lo considerano anche un martire.

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