The Sixteenth Day of Christmas Advent. St. Andrew the First-called Apostle
Saint Andrew the Apostle (Greek: ‘Ανδρέας, Andreas; early first century—mid to late first century AD), called in the Orthodox tradition Protokletos, or the First-called, is the brother of Peter the Apostle. The name “Andrew” (from Greek: “ανδρεία”, Andreia, manhood, or valour), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the second or third century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him.
The New Testament records that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, by which it is inferred that he was likewise a son of Jonah, or John. [Mt. 16:17] [Jn. 1:42] He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. [Jn. 1:44] 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 will make them “fishers of men” (Greek: ἁλιείς ἀνθρώπων, halieis anthropon). At the beginning of Jesus’ public life they occupied the same house at Capernaum. [Mk. 1:21-29]
The Gospel of John teaches that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus. [Jn. 1:35-40] Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. [Jn. 1:41] Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.
In the gospel Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus.
Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kiev. Hence he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. His presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew written sometime during the second century. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.
Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea. Though early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Christ was crucified, a tradition grew up that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross) and commonly known as “Saint Andrew’s Cross”; this was performed at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Christ was crucified.
Andrew is the patron saint of Patras. According to tradition his relics were moved from Patras to Constantinople. Local legends say that the relics were sold to the Romans. The head of Andrew, considered one of the treasures of St Peter’s Basilica, was given by the Byzantine despot Thomas Palaeologus to Pope Pius II in 1461. In recent years, by decision of Pope Paul VI in 1964, the relics that were kept in the Vatican City, were sent back home to Patras, where they belong. The relics, which consist of the small finger, part of the top of the cranium of Andrew and small parts of the cross, have since that time been kept in the Church of St Andrew at Patras in a special shrine, and are revered in a special ceremony every November 30.