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Saint Andrew

Five things you may not know about Saint Andrew, the first Apostle

Saint Andrew's day is always special in our family because it's our wedding anniversary. We handed out holy cards of St. Andrew to all of our wedding guests.

St. Andrew may have been one of the apostles but he isn't one of the most well known. Here are five facts about Saint Andrew and his feast so you can get to know him a little better.

1) First, but not favorite. Depending on which Gospel you are reading, St. Andrew was the first apostle called by Christ along with Saint Peter or he went seeking Jesus and after finding Him, went to get his brother Simon Peter.

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

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So why is it that Andrew was not one of the three Apostles who were closest to Christ? Peter James and John are typically with Jesus for events like the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane but Andrew, first of the Apostles, was not.

Saint Andrew the First Called
St Andrew the First Called – Painting of the calling of St Peter and St. Andrew by Duccio di Buoninsegna

2) Either Andrew's parents liked Greek or we don't know Andrew's real name. Andrew is not a Hebrew name. It is Greek. We are never told in the Bible that Andrew had another name so it is possible that he took it as a nickname or that his parents were of Greek descent.

3) Saint Andrew founded the See of Constantinople. According to tradition, Andrew founded the see of Byzantium in 38 AD and installed Stachys as the bishop. The Patriarchate of Constantinople still holds Saint Andrew as its patron saint.

4) Saint Andrew was quite the traveler (before and after he died). Keep in mind that most of the apostles' travel was done on foot or by boat.

Saint Andrew, like most of the Apostles, didn't stick around Galilee. They went all over to spread the Gospel. Saint Andrew traveled Asia Minor, where he established the See of Constantinople. He also traveled north to Kiev, Novogrod and along the northern shore of the Black Sea. That is why he is the patron saint of Romania, Ukraine and Russia.

After he was martyred in 60 AD in Patras, Greece, his body was buried in a monastery there. For a couple of hundred years his remains were undisturbed. In the early 300's a monk named Regulus who live in Patras had a dream where an angel told him to hide some of Saint Andrew's bones. Soon after he did that, the emperor ordered that the relics of the saint be moved to  the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

Patras Cathedral
By Εγώ [Fallacia83] τράβηξα την φώτο. Original uploader was Fallacia83 at el.wikipedia – Transferred from el.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Egmontaz using CommonsHelper.(Original text : Δική μου φώτο) en: Original uploader's own photo, Attribution, Link
Saint Regulus had another vision where an angel told him to take the remaining relics to “the ends of the earth” and build a shrine wherever he was shipwrecked. He eventually made his way to Fife, Scotland.

Poor Saint Andrew, whose body would never be in one piece again, had his skull sent back to Patras by Emperor Basil I sometime in the late 800's.

In 1208, after the crusaders sacked Constantinople, the remaining relics were transferred to Amalfi, Italy where the Cathedral of St. Andrew was built to house a tomb with the relics.

Cathedral of Saint Andrew
By Berthold Werner, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In 1461 the Ottoman Turks crossed the straight of Corinth on a sightseeing and real estate gathering expedition. The youngest surviving son of the Byzantine Emperor, Thomas Palaeologus, fled Patras with the the skull of St. Andrew and made it to Italy where he gave it to Pope Pius II who had it enshrined in one of the four main pillars of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The ulterior motive of the donation was to get the pope to declare crusade against the Turks. The crusade never really got off the ground and the pope died away from the Vatican while trying to get more European countries involved. But at least we have an amazing statue of Saint Andrew in St. Peter's Basilica to show for it.

Saint Andrew in Saint Peter's
Saint Andrew in Saint Peter's

For several hundred years, the various parts of Saint Andrew were at peace but not at home. In 1964 Pope Paul VI sent all the relics of Saint Andrew that were in Vatican City back to Patros where they are again enshrined.

The Cross of Saint Andrew was taken from Greece during the during the Crusades and was returned to Patras in 1980.

In 2008 one of the relics that was still enshrined at the cathedral in Amalfi was given back to Patras.

5) Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. You may have known this since the Scottish flag basically screams it, but do you know why?

While Saint Regulus is traditionally held to be the bringer of Saint Andrew's relics to Scotland directly from Patras, it is possible that they were brought by Acca, the bishop of Hexam who brought the relics to Scotland around 732 when he was driven out for an unknown reason.

He is said to have founded a church in Glasgow and also at Saint Andrews. Whether or not he had anything to do with the origins of golf is still being debated.

In 832 the pict king Oengus II led his army against the Angles (of course). On the eve of the battle he prayed for divine intervention and promised that if he was granted victory he would dedicate Scotland to Saint Andrew.

The day of the battle it was reported that clouds shaped like Saint Andrew's cross appeared in the sky and Oengus led his troops to victory.

Inspired by Saint Andrew? Browse our selection of Saint Andrew gifts.

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