LIFE OF THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST CALLED
Listen to Saint Andrew’s Life courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio
Andrew was at first a disciple of John the Baptizer along with John the Theologian. When the Forerunner pointed out Jesus as the Christ, they both became His disciples. Andrew took his brother, Saint Peter, to meet Jesus. He is called the Protokletos (the First Called) because he was the first Apostle to be summoned by Jesus into His service. Andrew and his brother Peter made their living as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Both men became Apostles, and while Peter symbolically came to represent the Church of the West, Andrew likewise represents the Church of the East.
The First Called, Apostle to Greece and Beyond
According to ecclesiastical tradition, Andrew began his missionary activity in the Provinces of Vithynia and Pontus on the southern shores of the Black Sea. Later he journeyed to the City of Byzantium and founded the Christian Church there, ordaining the first Bishop of Byzantium, Stachys, who was one of the 70 disciples of the Lord.
After Pentecost, Andrew taught in Byzantium, Thrace, Russia, Epirus, and the Peloponnese. In Amisos, he converted the Jews in the temple, baptized them, healed their sick, built a church, and left a priest for them. In Bithynia, he taught, healed their sick, and drove away the wild beasts that bothered them. His prayers destroyed the pagan temples, and those who resisted his words became possessed and gnawed at their bodies until Andrew healed them.
The First Called, Wonderworker
In one of his several missionary journeys to Greece, Andrew visited the City of Patras. Through his preaching and the miracles of healing he performed, in the name of Jesus, many persons were converted to Christianity. Among those healed was Maximilla, the wife of the Roman Proconsul, Aegeates. Seeing this miracle of healing, Stratoklis, the highly intellectual brother of the Proconsul, also became a Christian, and Andrew consecrated and enthroned him as the first Bishop of Patras.
As a prophet, he foretold of the greatness of Kiev as a city and a stronghold of Christianity. In Sinope, he prayed for the imprisoned Apostle Matthias, and his chains fell from him and the cell door opened. The people beat Andrew, breaking his teeth, cutting his fingers, and left him for dead in a dung heap. Jesus appeared to him and healed him, telling him to be of good cheer. When the people saw him the next day, they were amazed and they believed. At another time, he raised a woman’s only son from the dead.
The Crucifixion of the First Called
The conversions to the Christian Faith by members of his own family infuriated the Proconsul Aegeates, and he decided, with the urging of the idolators who advised him, to crucify Andrew. The crucifixion was carried out on an X-shaped cross with the body of the Apostle upside down so that he saw neither the earth nor his executioners, but only the sky which he glorified as the heaven in which he would meet his Lord. Aegeates had him tied to the cross in this manner so that he would live longer and suffer more.
Twenty thousand of the faithful stood by and mourned. Even then, Andrew taught them and exhorted them to endure temporary sufferings for the kingdom of heaven. Out of fear of the people, Aegeates came to remove Andrew from the cross. Andrew, however, said that Aegeates could still become a Christian, but that he had already seen Jesus and he would not allow himself to be removed from the cross. Many tried to undo the knots, but their hands all became numb. Suddenly, a heavenly light illumined Andrew for about a half hour. When it left, Andrew had given up his spirit.
His body was tenderly removed from the cross by Bishop Stratoklis and Maximilla, and buried with all of the honor befitting the Apostle. Soon countless numbers of Christians made their way to Patras to pay reverence to the grave of Andrew, and when Aegeates realized that the man he had put to death was truly a holy man of God a demon fell upon him and tormented him so powerfully that he committed suicide.
Re-burial in Constaninople
In the month of March in the year 357 the Emperor Constantine (son of Constantine The Great) ordered that the body of Saint Andrew be removed from Patras and be reinterred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. With all the magnificence and honor of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Church of Christ at Constantinople, Saint Andrew was returned to the City that had first heard the message of Jesus Christ from his lips. Thus he became in death, as well as in life, the founder of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople. His relics are in Constantinople along with the Apostle Luke and Timothy, the disciple of Paul, in the Church of the Apostles.
The deeds and preaching of Andrew became known in all parts of the world. According to tradition a part of the remains of Andrew were taken to Scotland, and he was chosen as the Protector of the Scottish people. The Cross of Saint Andrew also adorns the British flag where it was placed after the union of Scotland and England. The skull of Andrew was kept in Patras until the year 1460 when Thomas Paleologos, the last ruler of the Morea, brought the skull to Rome. In 1967, under the orders of Pope Paul of the Roman Church, the skull was returned to Patras with all of the pomp and dignity of the Papal State. He remains the patron saint of Russia, Scotland and Romania to this day.
The Call of Saint Andrew
Today the voice of Saint Andrew continues to call on all Christians, especially the Orthodox Christians throughout the world, who celebrate his memory on November 30th in the liturgical year. His unstilled spirit beckons across the centuries proclaiming: “The Saviour of the world has come! He is the Christ, the Son of God!” This is the call of Saint Andrew to all men for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow” (Hebrews 13:8).
Apostle Andrew, pray to God for us!
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As first of the Apostles to be called, O Andrew, brother of him (Peter) who was foremost, beseech the Master of all to grant the world peace and our souls great mercy.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Let us praise the namesake of bravery, the divinely eloquent and first to be called of the Disciples of Christ, the kinsman of Peter. As he called out to him in days of old, so now he calls to us, “Come, we have found Him for whom we yearned.