St. Andrew

(First Century; feastday November 30)

The New Testament gives us the names of the twelve apostles, but tells us little about their lives. Peter, James and John were closest to Jesus, so they are given fuller mention. Next in prominence, and named fourth on the apostles’ list, is Andrew. He was notable for first introducing the other apostles to our Lord.

Andrew (the name means “manly” in Greek) was a fisherman born in Galilee at Bethsaida but working out of Capharnaum, where he lived with his brother Simon, also a fisherman. Their father’s name was John (Jonah). The family were devout Jews.

When Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist began to preach repentance in the Jordan Valley, Andrew and John, the future apostles, hastened down to hear him. They were among the listening crowds on that memorable day when Jesus made His first public appearance. “Look,” said the Baptizer, pointing to Christ, “This is the Lamb of God.” Piqued with curiosity, Andrew and John followed Jesus after His baptism. “What are you looking for?” he asked the pair. “Rabbi,” they replied, “where do you stay?” “Come and see,” Jesus answered. They went with Him and spent the rest of the afternoon in His company. They were enthralled by what He said.

Andrew at once went home and told his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah!” So Simon returned with Andrew. As soon as Jesus saw Andrew’s brother, He said, “You are Simon, son of Jonah; your name shall be Cephas (which is rendered `Peter’)” (John 1:42). Thus it was St. Andrew who introduced to Christ Simon Peter, the rock on which He would build His Church.

Details are lacking about St. Andrew’s apostolate after the Resurrection. He seems to have worked mostly in Asia Minor and Greece. It is fairly well agreed that he was crucified as a martyr at Patras, the seaport of Athens on the Adriatic coast. A later tradition states that his cross was shaped like an “X” rather than a “T”. This “decussate” form of scaffold has since then been called the “St. Andrew’s Cross.”

The apostle’s relics were enshrined in Constantinople until 1204, when some crusaders from the West piously stole them and re-enshrined them at Amalfi, Italy. The explanation of how this apostle became patron of Scotland is legendary. Nonetheless, the premier diocese of Scotland is still called “St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh”, and the royal princes of England are always given “Andrew” as one of their baptismal names.

Nevertheless, St. Andrew remains popular, especially among those who follow the Byzantine Rite. The Greeks accept the less-warranted assertion that St. Andrew established the diocese of Constantinople. Russia, likewise, venerates him as its patron saint.

Greek-Rite Christians call St. Andrew “The Protoclete,” i.e., the “First-Called.” It is an appropriate title for the first of the twelve men invited by Jesus to “come and see.”

--Father Robert F. McNamara