Feast Day: November 30
Brother to the man, Peter, who would become his leader, Andrew was the first apostle to follow Jesus Christ. Andrew was born in Bethsaida in Galilee, the same area in which St. John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, first preached that Jesus was the Messiah. Andrew was so impressed that he sought out Jesus for further instruction. Inspired, uplifted, and overjoyed, Andrew recruited his brother (Simon, whom Jesus renamed Peter), who also became a disciple.
Initially, the brothers only joined Jesus at his preaching from time to time. But finally they abandoned their families and their work to follow him. Andrew was a fisherman. Andrew and Peter had formed a fishing partnership with two other brothers who became apostles, James and John. John’s Gospel tells us that it was Andrew who presented to Jesus the boy with the basket of five loaves and two fishes, which Christ multiplied to feed the hungry, five thousand followers.
After Jesus’ Crucifixion, tradition says that Andrew carried the Gospel to Byzantium, Russia, Romania, and Greece. He also went to Constantinople (Istanbul), a key place in the history of the early Church. Medieval worshippers claim he founded the Church there. Some believe he preached the Gospel as far as Kiev in Ukraine before moving on to Scotland.
In his missionary journeys, and at the Greek town Patras, Andrew was tied to an X-shaped cross. Before his crucifixion and with dignity, he disrobed himself and knelt before the cross as his persecutors prepared him for crucifixion. He lingered for three days on the cross, in agony, yet preaching to the crowd of onlookers until he died. To this day, the 24th letter of the alphabet is a symbol of St. Andrew. The Scottish flag is blue with a white X representing its patron saint. The Greek Orthodox Church calls Andrew “Protoclete,” meaning “first-called.” They venerate St. Andrew highly, as do the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches.
Most of St. Andrew’s relics are enshrined in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Amalfi, Italy. They were brought there in 1206 by crusaders who had carried off the apostle’s relics as a prize during the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. Legend claims that in the fourth century a Greek monk, St. Regulus, (St. Rule), arrived in Scotland with a few of St. Andrew’s bones. He built a chapel for the relics; a town sprang up around the chapel and took the name Saint Andrews. Over the centuries a series of successively larger churches were built on the site until 1559, when Protestant extremists destroyed all the altars and sacred images in the cathedral of St. Andrew and burned the saint’s relics. The cathedral was abandoned and today lies in ruins. It is currently a monument in the custody of Historic Scotland.
Craughwell, Thomas J. “Saints Preserved-An Encyclopedia of Relics.” New York, NY: Image Books, 2011.
Creighton-Jobe, Rev. Ronald, et al. “The Complete Illustrated History of Catholicism and the Catholic Saints.” Wigston, Leicestershire: Anness Publishing, 2011.
Trigilio, Rev. John, Ph.D, Th.D, and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph.D. “Saints for Dummies.” Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2010.