Commemorating The Feast of
Blessed Apostle Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew by François Duquesnoy ( Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome )
Saint Andrew, called Protocletos, or the First-called in the Orthodox tradition, was the younger brother of Blessed Apostle Saint Peter. He was renowned for bringing Christianity to Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, and is said to have been crucified on a Saltire cross in Patras, Greece. Andrew is esteemed as an example of humility for the fact that he refused to be crucified on the same type of cross as Christ because he was not worthy.
Many countries venerate Andrew as their patron saint including Scotland, Russia, and Romania. It is also held that Andrew founded the See of Byzantium in A.D. 38, where he installed Stachys as bishop. This See would later develop into the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Andrew is its patron saint. In both the Eastern and Western churches, the feast of Saint Andrew is observed on November 30 and it is the national day of Scotland.
According to Christian sources, Andrew was born at Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee ( Blessed Apostle Saint John 1:44 ). Later, he lived at Capernaum ( Blessed Apostle Saint Mark 1:29 ) where he was likely exposed to Greek influences. Andrew and his elder brother Peter were fishermen by trade and they were the first apostles to be appointed by Jesus. Consequently, Andrew is often called Protocletos, or the "first-called"; in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and he is described as being one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus ( Blessed Apostle Saint Mark 13:3; Blessed Apostle Saint John 6:8; 12:22 ).
After the crucifixion and Pentecost, Andrew allegedly preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kyiv. Due to his travels in these lands, he subsequently became known as the patron saint of Romania and Russia. Additionally, it is held that Andrew founded the See of Byzantium in 38 C.E., which would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is still its patron saint.
It is said that Andrew was martyred by crucifixion at Patras in Greece ( A.D. 60-70 ), on a cross of the form called Crux decussata ( X-shaped cross ) and commonly known as "St. Andrew's cross," at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Christ was crucified.
According to tradition his relics were removed from Patras to Constantinople, and thence to Saint Andrews. Local legends say that the relics were sold to the Romans by the local priests in exchange for the Romans constructing a water reservoir for the city. The head of the Saint Andrew, considered as one of the treasures of Saint Peter's Basilica, was given by the Byzantine despot Thomas Palaeologus to Pope Pius II in 1461. In recent years, the relics were kept in the Vatican City, but were sent back to Patras by decision of the Pope Paul VI in 1964. The relics, which consist of the small finger and part of the top of the cranium of Saint Andrew, have since that time been kept in the Church of St. Andrew at Patras in a special tomb, and are reverenced in a special ceremony every November 30.
Saint Jerome ( A.D. 342 419 ) wrote that the relics of Andrew were taken from Patras to Constantinople by order of the Roman emperor Constantius II in A.D. 357. In A.D. 1208, the relics were taken to Amalfi, Italy, by Pietro, cardinal of Capua, a native of Amalfi. In the fifteenth century, the skull of Andrew was brought to Rome, where it became enshrined in one of the four central piers of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. In September 1964, as a gesture of good will toward the Greek Orthodox Church, Pope Paul VI returned a finger and part of the head to the church in Patras. The Amalfi cathedral, dedicated to Saint Andrew ( as is the town itself ), contains a tomb in its crypt that it maintains still contains the rest of the relics of the apostle.
The apocryphal Acts of Andrew, as well as a Gospel of St. Andrew, appear among rejected books in the Decretum Gelasianum connected with the name of Pope Gelasius I. The Acts of Andrew was edited and published by Constantin von Tischendorf in the Acta Apostolorum apocrypha ( Leipzig, A.D. 1821 ), putting it for the first time into the hands of a critical professional readership.
Andrew was selected by Jesus to be an apostle. In Christianity, an apostle is commissioned by God to spread the "Good News" of the Christian message to the world. Normally, the term applies to one of the Twelve Apostles... listed in the New Testament, who were chosen by Jesus to heal the sick, drive out demons, raise the dead ( Blessed Apostle Saint Mark 6:7-13, Blessed Apostle Saint Matthew 10:5-42, and Blessed Apostle Saint Luke 9:1-6 ), and to spread his message. The status of the apostles in the early church was penultimate to Jesus himself, for Jesus had given them power to teach in his name.According to Eastern Orthodoxy, Blessed Apostle Saint Andrew founded the See of Byzantium in A.D. 38, which would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Early Christian history in the Ukraine holds that Blessed Apostle Saint Andrew preached on the southern borders of Ukraine, along the Black Sea. Legend has it that he traveled up the Dnieper River and reached the future location of Kiev, where he erected a cross on the site where the Saint Andrew's Church of Kiev currently stands, and where he prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city.
Romanians believe that Saint Andrew was the first to preach Christianity in Scythia Minor, modern Dobrogea, to the native people of the Dacians (ancestors of the Romanians). This is the official position of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
About the middle of the tenth century, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought under supernatural guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern town of Saint Andrews stands. Andrew's connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, when the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been "outranked" by Peter and that Peter's older brother would make a higher ranking patron. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland's conversion to Christianity by Saint Andrew, "the first to be an Apostle."
Numerous parish churches in the Church of Scotland and congregations of other Christian churches in Scotland are named after Saint Andrew. Today, Saint Andrew continues to be the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, Romania, Amalfi, and Luqa (Malta). Many national flags depict the cross on which he was crucified and thus bear a testament to him. For example, the flag of Scotland (and subsequently the Union Jack and the flag of Nova Scotia) feature a saltire in commemoration of the shape of Saint Andrew's cross. The saltire is also the flag of Tenerife and the naval jack of Russia. The feast of Andrew is observed on November 30 in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is the national day of Scotland. In the traditional liturgical books of the Catholic church, the feast of St. Andrew is the first feast day in the Proper of Saints.
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