Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
November 30, 2011
The Lord be with you
Vocation, acceptance, God’s call, our response, and ministry to our own family are themes of this feast day. Andrew, whose name means “manly,” was the brother of Peter, and was born in Bethsaida, a village in Galilee. He was the first apostle to follow Christ, his title in the Eastern Church is “the First-Called,” and his name regularly appears near the head of the lists of the apostles. Perhaps his greatest work was to bring his brother Simon Peter to Jesus.
After Pentecost, Andrew is said by Eusebius to have preached in Scythia, by Jerome and Theodoret in Greece; by Nicephorus in Asia Minor and Thrace. A late and rather unreliable tradition says that he was martyred on November 30 around 70 AD, at Patras in Achaia, Greece. The tradition he was crucified on an X-shaped cross first appeared in the tenth century. He was martyred, legend has it, for defying the proconsul Aegeas, who ordered Andrew to stop preaching and to sacrifice to the gods.
St. Andrew’s body is said to have been taken, along with St. Luke’s, to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople in 357 and later removed to the cathedral in Amalfi, Italy. The church at Constantinople claimed St. Andrew as its first bishop. The churches in Greece and Russia in particular hold Andrew in high honor. Also, quite early, certain of his relics were taken to St. Andrew’s Church in Fife, Scotland, and he became a patron saint of Scotland; the X-shaped cross of St. Andrew in the Union Jack represents Scotland.
The feast of St. Andrew was observed as early as the fourth century by the Eastern Church and by the sixth century in Rome and elsewhere. It is a national holiday in Scotland.
St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of the church year, since the First Sunday in Advent is the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day whether before or after. Because of this, the Feast of St. Andrew is the first day on our liturgical calendar, and many others.
St. Andrew’s eve, as the beginning of the church’s year, was long a traditional time for young girls to expect to see in dreams their future husbands.
Appropriate prayers on this feast day include prayer for obedience to God’s command, for a sense of mission, for those on spiritual pilgrimage, for the church in Scotland, for the church in Greece, and for those who minister to their own families.
(Adapted from: New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints, by Philip H. Pfatteicher)
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert