Andrew, whose name means “manly”, was the brother of Simon Peter and was born in Bethsaida, a village of Galilee. The Gospel according to John tells us that Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, was one of the two disciples who followed Jesus after John had declared of him, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Andrew and the other disciple followed Jesus, and Andrew’s first act afterward was to find his brother and bring him to Jesus. For this reason, Andrew is given the title “the First-Called” by the Eastern Churches.
Though Andrew was not a part of the inner circle of disciples – Peter, James, and John, he is always named in the lists of the disciples. In Matthew and Luke, his name appears second, while in Mark and in the Acts of the Apostles he is listed after Peter, James, and John, as fourth in the list in company with Philip. Andrew appears prominently in several incidents in the Gospels. Andrew and Peter were fishermen, and in the Gospel according to Matthew Jesus calls them from their occupation, and they immediately respond to his call. Andrew was the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and the fishes to Jesus for the feeding of the multitude.
The fourth century historian and bishop Eusebius writes that after Pentecost, Andrew preached in Scythia. Jerome and Theodoret locate his preaching in Greece (Achaia), and Nicephorus places him in Asia Minor and Thrace. The late second century Muratorian Fragment connects him with the writing of the Gospel according to John. A late tradition holds that he was martyred on November 30, c. 70 at Patras in Achaia. An ancient church still stands over the traditional site of his martyrdom. The earliest mention of his being crucified on an X-shaped (“Greek”) cross is from the tenth century. This tradition accounts for the X-shaped cross of St Andrew that appears in medieval and Renaissance iconography.
St Andrew’s body is said to have been taken to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople in 357 and later translated to the cathedral in Amalfi, Italy. The patriarchate of Constantinople grounds its claim to be an apostolic see (like Antioch, Jerusalem, and Rome) on the tradition of his having been the first bishop of the Church at Byzantium, the older town which the emperor Constantine enlarged to found Constantinople. The Churches of Greece and Russia particularly give high honor to St Andrew, and because of a legend that certain of his relics were translated to St Andrew’s Church in Fife in the eighth century, he became a patron saint of Scotland (hence the appearance of the X-shaped Cross of St Andrew on the Scottish flag and on the British Union Jack).
The feast of St Andrew was observed as early as the fourth century in the East and by the sixth century at Rome. The feast day determines the beginning of the Church year, since the First Sunday in Advent is always the Sunday nearest to St Andrew’s Day, whether before or after. In most liturgical books the sanctoral calendar begins with the commemoration of St Andrew the Apostle.
prepared from material from Lesser Feasts and Fasts and from New Book of Festivals and Commemorations (Philip H. Pfatteicher, Fortress Press)
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
[Moses said to the people of Israel] For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard,
Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
and their message to the ends of the world.
In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again; *
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect
and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the LORD is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
The statutes of the LORD are just
and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the LORD is clear
and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean
and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey,
than honey in the comb.
By them also is your servant enlightened, *
and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can tell how often he offends? *
cleanse me from my secret faults.
Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me; *
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight, *
O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
The scripture texts for the Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).
The icon of Saint Andrew the Apostle was written by and is © Aidan Hart and is reproduced here with his generous permission.