The collect for today, the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):
ALMIGHTY God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: Grant unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A native of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, Andrew was a fisherman, the son of the fisherman John, and the brother of the fisherman Simon Peter. He was at first, along with John the Evangelist, a disciple of John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus was the Christ led the two to follow Jesus. Andrew then took his brother Simon Peter to meet Jesus. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, St. Andrew is called the Protokletos (the First Called) because he is named as the first disciple summoned by Jesus into his service.
At first Andrew and Simon Peter continued to carry on their fishing trade, but the Lord later called them to stay with him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men and, this time, they left their nets for good.
The only other specific reference to Andrew in the New Testament is at St. Mark 13:3, where he is one of those asking the questions that lead our Lord into his great eschatological discourse.
In the lists of the apostles that appear in the gospels, Andrew is always numbered among the first four. He is named individually three times in the Gospel of St. John. In addition to the story of his calling (John 1:35-42), he, together with Philip, presented the Gentiles to Christ (John 12:20-22), and he pointed out the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8).
After Christ’s ascension, Andrew is named in the Acts of the Apostles only in lists of the apostles. It is not certain where he preached, where he died, or where he was buried, although there are early church traditions concerning these events. The earliest written tradition associates St. Andrew with Greece; other traditions hold that he also preached in Asia Minor along the coast of the Black Sea. In particular, he is credited with founding the Christian church at Byzantium (later Constantinople), where he ordained the first Bishop of Byzantium, Stachys. The Orthodox Church believes that this commenced an unbroken line of 271 Patriarchs of Constantinople that continues to the present day.
Andrew is believed to have been crucified on a saltire (X-shaped) cross at Patras in Achaia, where he preached to the people for two days before he died. His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero, on 30 November, AD 60, when he must have been an old man.
Around 357, Roman emperor Constantine had Andrew’s remains transferred to the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople. During the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople fell to the Crusaders, Cardinal Pietro Capuano (Peter of Capua) took the saint’s remains to Amalfi. The relics arrived on 8 May 1208 to joyful celebration and were placed in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. Andrew.
Also in the mid-fourth century, St. Rule (or Regulus) took some of Andrew’s relics to the far northwest. He stopped on the Fife coast of Scotland, where he built a church and founded the settlement later known as Saint Andrews. After Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English at Bannockburn (1314), the Declaration of Arbroath named St. Andrew patron saint of Scotland and the Saltire became the national flag in 1385.
Artwork: Peter Howson, Crucifixion of Saint Andrew, 2007. Oil on canvas, City Art Centre, Edinburgh.