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Saint Andrew the Apostle


 

DW | Holy Saints


Andrew the Apostle, also called Saint Andrew, was an apostle of Jesus. He is the brother of Simon Peter and is a son of Jonah. Originally a disciple of John the Baptist, he became one of Jesus' closest apostles and eventually went on to preach in the Black Sea region where he would give his life for the faith.

 
 

1.1 – Early Years With Jesus

 

Andrew the Apostle was born between 5 and 10 AD in Bethsaida, in Galilee. Pope Benedict XVI stated, "The first striking characteristic of Andrew is his name: it is not Hebrew, as might have been expected, but Greek, indicative of a certain cultural openness in his family that cannot be ignored. We are in Galilee, where the Greek language and culture are quite present."


Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he would make them "fishers of men". According to Mark 1:29, at the beginning of Jesus' public life, they occupied the same house at Capernaum.


In the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Mark, these narratives record that Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, observed Simon and Andrew fishing, and called them to discipleship.


In the parallel incident in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus initially used a boat, solely described as being Simon's, as a platform for preaching to the multitudes on the shore and then as a means to achieving a huge trawl of fish on a night which had otherwise proved fruitless. The narrative indicates that Simon was not the only fisherman in the boat, but it is not until the next chapter (Luke 6:14) that Andrew is named as Simon's brother. However, it is generally understood that Andrew was fishing with Simon on the night in question.


Matthew Poole, (1624–1679), who was an English theologian and biblical commentator, stressed that 'Luke denies not that Andrew was there'.


The Gospel of John states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him, and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist, to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. The Byzantine Church honors him with the name Protokletos, which means "the first called". Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ and would eventually leave all things to follow Jesus on his ministry.


Finally Andrew was chosen to be one of the Twelve; and in the various lists of Apostles given in the New Testament (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) he is always numbered among the first four.


We learn from the fourth Gospel that on the occasion of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who said: "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?" (John 6:8-9); and when, a few days before Our Lord's death, certain Greeks asked Philip that they might see Jesus, Philip referred the matter to Andrew as to one of greater authority, and then both told Jesus (John 12:20-22).


Like the majority of the Twelve, Andrew is not named in the Acts except in the list of the Apostles, where the order of the first four is Peter, John, James, Andrew.


From what we know of the Apostles generally, we can, of course, supplement somewhat these few details. As one of the Twelve, Andrew was admitted to the closest familiarity with Jesus during His public life; and was present at the Last Supper. Andrew was one of the four disciples who came to Jesus on the Mount of Olives to ask about the signs of Jesus' return at the "end of the age".


Andrew beheld the risen Lord, witnessed the Ascension, shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith.

 
 

1.2 – Later Years After Jesus

 

Like the other apostles, Andrew became a missionary. He preached about Jesus in the area around the Black Sea. Tradition tells us he preached in northern Greece, Turkey, and Scythia (now the southern part of Russia).


According to Hippolytus of Rome, Andrew preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew. According to tradition, he founded the see of Byzantium (later Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. This diocese became the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople under Anatolius, in 451. Basil of Seleucia (5th century) also knew of Apostle Andrew's missions in Thrace, Scythia and Achaea.


Cypriot tradition holds that a ship which was transporting Andrew went off course and ran aground. Upon coming ashore, Andrew struck the rocks with his staff at which point a spring of healing waters gushed forth. Using it, the sight of the ship's captain, who had been blind in one eye, was restored. Thereafter, the site became a place of pilgrimage and a fortified monastery, the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, which stood there in the 12th century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lionheart. In the 15th century, a small chapel was built close to the shore. The main monastery of the current church dates to the 18th century.


Other pilgrimages are more recent. The story is told that in 1895, the son of a Maria Georgiou was kidnapped. Seventeen years later, Andrew appeared to her in a dream, telling her to pray for her son's return at the monastery. Living in Anatolia, she embarked on the crossing to Cyprus on a very crowded boat. As she was telling her story during the journey, one of the passengers, a young Dervish priest, became more and more interested. Asking if her son had any distinguishing marks, he stripped off his clothes to reveal the same marks and mother and son were thus reunited.


Tradition regarding the early Christian history of Ukraine holds that the apostle Andrew preached on the southern borders of modern-day Ukraine, along the Black Sea. Legend has it that he traveled up the Dnieper River and reached the future location of Kyiv, where he erected a cross on the site where the Saint Andrew's Church of Kyiv currently stands, and where he prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city.

 
 

1.3 – Death & Legacy

 

It is generally agreed that St. Andrew was crucified by order of the Roman Governor, Aegeas, at Patrae in Achaia, and that he was bound, not nailed, to the cross, in order to prolong his sufferings. The cross on which he suffered is commonly held to have been a diagonal cross, supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.


The iconography of the martyrdom of Andrew - showing him bound to an X-shaped cross - does not appear to have been standardized until the later Middle Ages. His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero, on 30 November, A.D. 60, and both the Latin and Greek Churches keep 30 November as his feast day.


A local superstition uses the cross of Saint Andrew as a hex sign on the fireplaces in northern England and Scotland to prevent witches from flying down the chimney and entering the house to do mischief. By placing the Saint Andrew's cross on one of the fireplace posts or lintels, it is said that witches are prevented from entering through this opening.


Andrew's remains were originally preserved at Patras. However, some believe St. Regulus, who was a monk at Patras, received a vision telling him to hide some of Andrew's bones. Shortly after Regulus' dream, many of Andrew's relics were transferred to Constantinople by order of Roman emperor Constantius II around 357. Regulus later received orders in a second dream telling him to take the bones "to the ends of the earth." He was to build a shrine for them wherever he shipwrecked. He landed on the coast of Fife, Scotland.


In September 1964, Pope Paul VI had all of St. Andrew's relics that ended up in Vatican City sent back to Patras. Now, many of Andrew's relics and the cross on which he was martyred are kept in the Church of St. Andrew in Patras.

St. Andrew is venerated in Georgia as the first preacher of Christianity in that territory and in Cyprus for having struck the rocks creating a gush of healing waters upon landing on the shore.


His X-shaped cross is featured on the flag of Scotland and is represented in much of his iconography.


St. Andrew is commonly portrayed as an old man with long white hair and a beard, often holding the Gospel book or a scroll.


St. Andrew is the patron saint of fishermen and singers. He is also the patron saint to several countries and cities including: Scotland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Patras.


He is considered the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Thus, Benedict XVI calls him "the Apostle of the Greek world," and since he is the brother of St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome, their brotherhood is "symbolically expressed in the special reciprocal relations of the See of Rome and of Constantinople, which are truly Sister Churches."


This is what the apostle was claimed to have said just before his death on his X-shaped cross, according to an ancient story which dates back to the beginning of the sixth century, entitled the passion of Andrew:


“Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.

Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the one who was hung upon you... O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord's limbs!... Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross; yes, Hail indeed!”

 

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