Saint Andrew, Apostle, Martyr

Saint Andrew

Saint Andrew, Apostle, Martyr

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November 30

Today is the feast day of Saint Andrew.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Andrew, brother of Saint Peter and at first a disciple of Saint John the Baptist, was among the early followers of Christ. According to tradition, Andrew preached extensively throughout Greece and Asia Minor. He was martyred on an X-shaped cross in Achaia, in southern Greece.

Thy name, betokening beauty, befits thy life, foretells thy splendor in the glory of Thy holy cross. The cross exalts thee, the blessed cross loves thee, the bitter cross prepares for thee the joys of the light to come. The mystery of the cross shines in thee with a twofold beauty: for by the cross thou dost vanquish insults and dost preach to men the Divine blood shed on the cross. Give fervor to our languid hearts, and take us under thy care, that so, by the victory of the cross, we may reach our home in heaven. Amen Pope Saint Damasus

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB

The Proper of the Saints in the Roman Missal opens with Saint Andrew, because, although his Feast sometimes occurs before the holy season of Advent has begun, it frequently happens that we have entered Advent when the memory of this great Apostle has to be celebrated by the Church. This Feast is therefore destined to terminate with solemnity the cycle which is at its close, or to add luster to the new one which has just begun. It seems, indeed, fitting that the Christian year should begin and end with the Cross, which has merited for us each of the years that it has pleased the divine goodness to grant us, and which is to appear, on the last day, in the clouds of Heaven, as the seal put on time.

We should remember that St. Andrew is the Apostle of the Cross. To St. Peter, Jesus has given firmness of faith; to St. John, warmth of love; the mission of St. Andrew is to represent the Cross of his divine Master. Now it is by these three—faith, love, and the Cross, that the Church renders Herself worthy of Her Spouse. Everything She has or is, bears this three-fold character. Hence it is that after the two Apostles just named, there is none who hold such a prominent place in the universal Liturgy as St. Andrew.

But let us read the life of this glorious fisherman of the lake of Genesareth, who was afterwards to be the successor of Christ Himself, and the companion of his brother St. Peter, on the tree of the Cross. The Church has compiled it from the ancient Acts of the martyrdom of the holy Apostle, drawn up by the priests of the Church of Patras, which was founded by the Saint. The authenticity of this venerable piece has been contested by Protestants, inasmuch as it makes mention of several things which would militate against them—including the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist. Their sentiment has been adopted by several critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the other hand, these Acts have been accepted by a far greater number of Catholic writers of eminence; amongst whom may be mentioned the great Baronius, Labbe, Noel Alexander, Gallandus, Lumper, Morcelli, etc. The Churches, too, of both east and west, which have inserted these Acts in their respective Offices of St. Andrew, are of some authority, as is also St. Bernard, who has made them the groundwork of his three admirable sermons on St. Andrew:

St. Andrew the Apostle, born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, was a brother of St. Peter, and disciple of St. John the Baptist. Having heard his master say, speaking of Christ: Behold the Lamb of God! he followed Jesus, and brought to Him his brother also. When, afterwards, he was fishing with his brother in the sea of Galilee, they were both called, before any of the other Apostles, by Our Lord, Who, passing by, said to them: Come after Me; I will make you to be fishers of men. Without delay, they left their nets and followed Him. After the Passion and Resurrection, St. Andrew went to spread the Faith of Christ in Scythia in Europe, which was the province assigned to him; then he travelled through Epirus and Thrace, and by his teaching and miracles converted innumerable souls to Christ. Afterwards, having reached Patras in Achaia, he persuaded many in that city to embrace the truth of the Gospel. Finding that the proconsul Aegeas resisted the preaching of the Gospel, he most freely upbraided him for that he, who desired to be considered as a judge of men, should be so far deceived by devils as not to acknowledge Christ to be God, the Judge of all.

Then Aegeas being angry, said: Cease to boast of this Christ, Whom such words as these kept not from being crucified by the Jews. But finding that St. Andrew continued boldly preaching that Christ had offered Himself to be crucified for the salvation of mankind, he interrupted him by an impious speech, and at length exhorted him to look to his own interest and sacrifice to the gods. St. Andrew answered him: I offer up every day to almighty God, Who is one and true, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but the spotless Lamb upon the altar; of Whose flesh the whole multitude of the faithful eat, and the Lamb that is sacrificed remains whole and living. Whereupon Aegeas being exceedingly angry, ordered him to be thrust into prison, whence the people would have easily freed St. Andrew, had he not himself appeased the multitude, begging of them, with most earnest entreaty, that they would not keep him from the long-desired crown of martyrdom, to which he was hastening.

Not long after this, he was brought before the tribunal; where he began to extol the mystery of the Cross, and rebuke the judge for his impiety. Aegeas, no longer able to contain himself on hearing these words, ordered him to be raised on a cross, and so to die like Christ. St. Andrew, having been brought to the place of execution, seeing the cross at some distance, began to cry out: O good cross, made beautiful by the Body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master; that by thee He may receive me, Who by thee redeemed me. He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the Faith of Christ: after which he passed to Him, Whose death he had so coveted. The priests and deacons of Achaia, who wrote his passion, attest that all the things which they have recorded were heard and seen by them. His relics were first translated to Constantinople under the Emperor Constantius, and afterwards to Amalfi. During the Pontificate of Pius II, the head was taken to Rome, and placed in the Basilica of St. Peter.

The Greek Church was as fervent as any of the Churches of the west in celebrating the prerogatives and merits of St. Andrew. He was the more dear to it, because Constantinople considered him as her patron Apostle. It would, perhaps, be difficult for the Greeks to give any solid proofs of St. Andrew’s having founded, as they pretend, the Church of Byzantium; but this is certain, that Constantinople enjoyed, for many centuries, the possession of the precious treasure of the Saint's relics. They were translated to that city in the year 357, through the interest of the Emperor Constantius, who placed them in the Basilica of the Apostles built by his father Constantine. Later on, that is, about the middle of the sixth century, Justinian caused them to be translated a second time, but only from one part of the same Basilica to another.

The Church of Constantinople was at length deprived of the precious treasure of his relics. This happened in the year 1210, when the city was taken by the crusaders. Cardinal Peter of Capua, the legate of the Holy See, translated the body of St. Andrew into the Cathedral of Amalfi, a town in the kingdom of Naples, where it remains to this day, the glorious instrument of numberless miracles, and the object of the devout veneration of the people. It is well known how, at the same period, the most precious relics of the Greek Church came, by a visible judgment of God, into the possession of the Latins. Byzantium refused to accept those terrible warnings, and continued obstinate in her schism. She was still in possession of the head of the Holy Apostle, owing, no doubt, to this circumstance, that in the several translations which had been made, it had been kept in a separate reliquary by itself. When the Byzantine empire was destroyed by the Turks, Divine Providence so arranged events, as that the Church of Rome should be enriched with the magnificent relic. In 1462, the head of St. Andrew was, therefore, brought there by the celebrated Cardinal Bessarion; and on Palm Sunday, the 12th of April, the heroic Pope Pius II went in great pomp to meet it as far as the Milvian Bridge, and then placed it in the Basilica of St. Peter, on the Vatican, near the Confession of the Prince of the Apostles. At the sight of this venerable head, Pius II was transported with a religious enthusiasm, and before taking up the glorious relic in order to carry it into Rome, he pronounced the following magnificent address, which we give as a conclusion to this account of the Liturgy of the Feast of St. Andrew:

At length thou hast arrived, O most holy and venerable head of the saintly Apostle! The fury of the Turks has driven thee from thy resting-place, and thou art come as an exile to thy brother, the Prince of the Apostles. Thy brother will not fail thee; and by the will of God, the day will come when men shall say in thy praise: O happy banishment, which caused thee to receive such a welcome! Meanwhile, here shalt thou dwell with thy brother, and share in his honors.

This is Rome, the venerable city, which was dedicated by thy brother's precious blood. The people thou seest are they whom the blessed Apostle, thy most loving brother, and St. Paul, the vessel of election, regenerated unto Christ our Lord. Thus the Romans are thy kinsmen. They venerate, and honor, and love thee as their father's brother; nay, as their second father; and are confident of thy patronage in the presence of the great God.

O most blessed Apostle Andrew! thou preacher of the truth, and defender of the dogma of the most Holy Trinity! with what joy dost thou fill us on this day, whereon it is given us to behold thy sacred and venerable head, which deserved that, on the day of Pentecost, the holy Paraclete should rest upon it in the form of fire!

O ye Christians that visit Jerusalem out of reverence for your Savior, that there you may see the places where His feet have stood; lo! here is the throne of the Holy Ghost. Here sat the Spirit of the Lord. Here was seen the Third Person of the Trinity. Here were the eyes that so often saw Jesus in the flesh. This was the mouth that so often spoke to Jesus; and on these cheeks did that same Lord doubtless impress His sacred kisses.

O wondrous sanctuary, wherein dwelt charity, and kindness, and gentleness, and spiritual consolation. Who could look upon such venerable and precious relics of the Apostle of Christ and not be moved? and not be filled with tender devotion? and not shed tears for very joy? Yea, O most admirable Apostle Andrew! we rejoice, and are glad, and exult, at this thy coming, for we doubt not that thou thyself art present here, and bearest us company as we enter with thy head into the holy city.

The Turks are indeed our enemies, as being the enemies of the Christian religion: but in that they have been the occasion of thy coming amongst us, we are grateful to them. For what greater blessing could have befallen us than that we should be permitted to see thy most sacred head, and that our Rome should be filled with its fragrance! Oh! that we could welcome thee with the honors which are due to thee, and receive thee in a way becoming thy exceeding holiness! But accept our good will, and our sincere desires to honor thee, and suffer us now to touch thy relics with our unworthy hands, and, though sinners, to accompany thee within the walls of the city.

Enter, then, the holy city, and show thy love to her people. May thy coming be a boon to Christendom. May thy entrance be peaceful, and thy abode amongst us bring happiness and prosperity. Be thou our advocate in Heaven, and, together with the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, defend this city, and protect with thy love all Christian people; that, by thy intercession, the mercy of God may be upon us; and if His indignation be enkindled against us by reason of our manifold sins, let it fall upon the impious Turks and the pagan nations that blaspheme Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thus has the glory of St. Andrew been blended in Rome with that of St. Peter. But the Apostle of the Cross, whose Feast was heretofore kept in many churches with an octave, has also been chosen as patron of one of the kingdoms of the west. Scotland, when she was a Catholic country, had put herself under his protection. May he still exercise his protection over her, and, by his prayers, hasten her return to the true Faith!

O most blessed Apostle Andrew! thou preacher of the truth, and defender of the dogma of the most Holy Trinity! with what joy dost thou fill us on this day, whereon it is given us to behold thy sacred and venerable head, which deserved that, on the day of Pentecost, the holy Paraclete should rest upon it in the form of fire!

O ye Christians that visit Jerusalem out of reverence for your Savior, that there you may see the places where His feet have stood; lo! here is the throne of the Holy Ghost. Here sat the Spirit of the Lord. Here was seen the Third Person of the Trinity. Here were the eyes that so often saw Jesus in the flesh. This was the mouth that so often spoke to Jesus; and on these cheeks did that same Lord doubtless impress His sacred kisses.

O wondrous sanctuary, wherein dwelt charity, and kindness, and gentleness, and spiritual consolation. Who could look upon such venerable and precious relics of the Apostle of Christ and not be moved? and not be filled with tender devotion? and not shed tears for very joy? Yea, O most admirable Apostle Andrew! we rejoice, and are glad, and exult, at this thy coming, for we doubt not that thou thyself art present here, and bearest us company as we enter with thy head into the holy city.

The Turks are indeed our enemies, as being the enemies of the Christian religion: but in that they have been the occasion of thy coming amongst us, we are grateful to them. For what greater blessing could have befallen us than that we should be permitted to see thy most sacred head, and that our Rome should be filled with its fragrance! Oh! that we could welcome thee with the honors which are due to thee, and receive thee in a way becoming thy exceeding holiness! But accept our good will, and our sincere desires to honor thee, and suffer us now to touch thy relics with our unworthy hands, and, though sinners, to accompany thee within the walls of the city.

Enter, then, the holy city, and show thy love to her people. May thy coming be a boon to Christendom. May thy entrance be peaceful, and thy abode amongst us bring happiness and prosperity. Be thou our advocate in Heaven, and, together with the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, defend this city, and protect with thy love all Christian people; that, by thy intercession, the mercy of God may be upon us; and if His indignation be enkindled against us by reason of our manifold sins, let it fall upon the impious Turks and the pagan nations that blaspheme Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thus has the glory of St. Andrew been blended in Rome with that of St. Peter. But the Apostle of the Cross, whose Feast was heretofore kept in many churches with an octave, has also been chosen as patron of one of the kingdoms of the west. Scotland, when she was a Catholic country, had put herself under his protection. May he still exercise his protection over her, and, by his prayers, hasten her return to the true Faith! (1)

Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

The holy Apostle, St. Andrew, born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, was a brother of St. Peter, and at first a disciple of St. John the Baptist. He was the first of the Apostles who had the happiness of knowing Christ, the true Messiah; for, one day, when Andrew and another disciple were standing with their master on the banks of the Jordan, St. John, pointing to Jesus, who was approaching, said: “Behold the Lamb of God!” No sooner had Andrew heard these words, than he and the other disciple followed Christ, and remained with Him that day.

On the following day, meeting his brother, Simon, afterward called Peter, he said to him: “We have found the Messiah,” and brought him to Christ. Not long after this, when Andrew and Peter were casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee, Christ called them, and said: “Come after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men!” Immediately leaving their nets, they followed Him. From that moment, Andrew left the Lord no more, except at the time when He was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane, by the Jews, when he fled like the other disciples.

He was present when Christ, after His resurrection, appeared to His disciples; when He ascended into heaven in their presence, and when He sent the Holy Ghost from heaven upon them. When the Apostles separated, and went into the different countries of the world, to preach the Gospel of Christ to all nations, Andrew travelled into Scythia, Thrace, Galatia and other Pagan countries, where he converted many thousands by his sermons, and by the miracles he performed. At last he came to Patrae, the capital of Achaia, in Greece, and there, too, preached, with apostolic freedom, the Word of the Lord, and approved it by many miracles, which induced a great number of the inhabitants to embrace Christianity. Egeas, the governor, resisted him with all his might, and endeavored to defend idolatry. The holy Apostle, however, reproved him fearlessly, and said: “You desire that this people should recognize you as their judge; why, then, do you refuse to recognize Christ, the true God, as the Judge of all mankind; and why do you refuse to turn your heart from idolatry?”

“Be silent!” replied Egeas, “and speak not to me of your Christ. Was he not nailed by the Jews to a cross? How then can he be a true God? How can I worship him as God?” Andrew endeavored to explain the great mystery of the Redemption of the human race, and to show how Christ had, voluntarily, and for love of man, died the ignominious death of the cross; but, Egeas would not listen, and, interrupting him, commanded him immediately to sacrifice to the gods, or to prepare himself for a most cruel martyrdom. Andrew replied: “I offer daily, on the Altar, to the Almighty, who is the only true God, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but an unspotted Lamb, which, when the entire multitude of the faithful have partaken of its flesh, remains entire and living.” The governor, full of wrath, ordered Andrew to be cast into a dungeon; but the people, who loved the Saint as a father, rose against the governor, and ran in crowds to the dungeon, determined to set the prisoner free. But the Apostle besought them to be quiet, and not seek to prevent him from receiving the crown of martyrdom, which he had so long desired.

The following day, St. Andrew was brought before the governor, who offered him the greatest honors, if he would consent to sacrifice to the gods; but threatened him with the most cruel torments, if he persisted in refusing. The Saint said fearlessly: “The honors you offer me have no value in my eyes, because they are temporal and pass away; the tortures you threaten me with, I despise, for the same reason; but you, O Egeas! have to fear torments which last for ever, if you do not abandon your idols, and recognize Jesus Christ for the true and only God, and worship Him as such.”

After these words, the Saint continued to preach to the governor, and to all present, of the crucified Lord, and of the happiness of all those who suffer for Him. Egeas, enraged at the Apostle's fearlessness, ordered him to be most cruelly scourged, and then to be crucified, in order to make him resemble his God. This was meant by the governor in derision; but no manner of death could have been more welcome to St. Andrew. The cruel and unjust sentence was received with murmurs by the people, of whom some were heard saying aloud: “This man is just, and a friend of God: why must he be crucified?

“Andrew, addressing the people again, begged them not to deprive him of what he looked upon as an inestimable happiness. When he was led to the place of execution, and saw the cross on which he was to die, he cried out joyfully: “O precious cross, which I have so long desired, so truly loved, so ceaselessly sought; at last I find thee prepared to receive me. Take me away from the world, and unite me again with my Lord, that He who has redeemed me on thee, may again receive me by thee.” Thus cried the Saint from afar; but when he reached the cross, he embraced and kissed it, and gave himself willingly to the executioners, who bound him to it. No sooner had the cross been raised, than it served as a pulpit to the holy Apostle, and he exhorted the Christians to remain firm in their holy faith, and the heathens to convert themselves to the only true God. He explained the nothingness of the idols, and the truth of the Christian religion. For two days he lived and preached, hanging on the cross. The people began again to murmur against the governor, and desired to have the Saint taken down from the cross; but the holy martyr desired to be permitted to die upon it, as he esteemed death a priceless grace.

On the third day, when the people seemed determined to rescue him by force, he called to his Savior : ” Do not permit, O Lord, that Thy servant, who, according to his own wish, hangs on the cross, be taken down from it; but do Thou take me from it to Thee, O my beloved Master, Jesus Christ, whom I have confessed and always loved, and whom, still confessing, I long to see. Take, O Lord Jesus, my spirit to Thee. I ardently desire to be united with Thee.” During this prayer, a bright light streamed from heaven, and rested upon the Saint, whilst he breathed his last. The martyrdom of St. Andrew happened in the year of Our Lord 62, or, according to others, in 70. His holy body was transported to Constantinople in the time of Constantine the Great; but was afterwards brought to Rome, where it has its resting-place in the Church of St. Peter. (3)

St. Andrew is honoured as their chief patron by Russia and Scotland.

Image: Saint Andrew, artist: Camillo Rusconi, circa 1713, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran  (13)

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-186/Andrew.htm
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints11-18.htm
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Andrew%20Popup.html
  4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_andrew.html
  5. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/11-30.html
  6. http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots369.htm
  7. http://www.crusaders-for-christ.com/blog/instruction-on-the-feast-of-st-andrew-and-a-coloring-picture
  8. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-andrew-1st-century-apostle/
  9. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/11/november-30-saint-andrew-first-disciple.html
  10. http://gardenofmary.com/november-30-st-andrew-apostle/
  11. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j156sd_StAndrew_11-30.shtml
  12. http://www.nobility.org/2016/11/28/st-andrew/
  13. Saint Andrew

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