Today is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle in both the Western and Churches.
In the West, here is what Dom Prosper Guéranger has to say about him:
Let us read the life of this glorious fisherman of the lake of Genesareth, who was afterwards to be the successor of Christ Himself, and the companion of Peter on the tree of the Cross. The Church has compiled it from the ancient Acts of the Martyrdom of the holy Apostle, drawn up by the priests of the Church of Patrae, which was founded by the Saint. The authenticity of this venerable piece has been contested by Protestants inasmuch as it makes mention of several things which would militate against them. Their sentiment has been adopted by several critics of the 17th and 18th centuries. On the other hand, these Acts have been received by a far greater number of Catholic writers of eminence, among whom may be mentioned the great Baronius, Labbe, Natalia Alexander, Gallandus, Lumper, Morcelli, etc. The Churches, too, of both East and West, which have inserted these Acts in their respective Offices of Saint Andrew, are of some authority, as is also Saint Bernard, who has made them the groundwork of his three admirable sermons on Saint Andrew:
Andrew, the Apostle, born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, was brother of Peter and disciple of John the Baptist. Having heard his master say, speaking of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God!” he followed Jesus and brought to Him his brother also. When, afterwards, he was fishing with his brother in the sea of Galilee, they were both called, before any of the other Apostles, by our Lord who, passing by, said to them: “Come after me. I will make you to be fishers of men.” Without delay, they left their nets and followed Him.
After the Passion and Resurrection, Andrew went to spread the faith of Christ in Scythia in Europe, which was the province assigned to him. Then he travelled through Epirus and Thrace, and by his teaching and miracles converted innumerable souls to Christ. Afterwards, having reached Patrae in Achaia, he persuaded many in that city to embrace the truth of the Gospel. Finding that the Proconsul Aegeas resisted the preaching of the Gospel, he most freely upbraided him for that he, who desired to be considered as a judge of men, should be so far deceived by devils as not to acknowledge Christ to be God, the Judge of all. Then Aegeas being angry, said: “Cease to boast of this Christ, whom such like words as these kept not from being crucified by the Jews.” But finding that Andrew continued boldly preaching that Christ had offered Himself to be crucified for the salvation of mankind, he interrupted him by an impious speech, and at length exhorted him to look to his own interest and sacrifice to the gods. Andrew answered him: “I offer up every day to almighty God, who is one and true, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but the spotless Lamb upon the altar. I of whose flesh the whole multitude of the faithful eat, and the Lamb that is sacrificed, remains whole and living.” Whereupon Aegeas being exceeding angry, ordered him to be thrust into prison, where the people would easily have freed Andrew, had he not himself appeased the multitude, begging of them, with most earnest entreaty, that they would not keep him from the long-sought-for crown of martyrdom, to which he was hastening. Not long after this, Andrew was brought before the tribunal,where he began to extol the mystery of the Cross and rebuke the judge for his impiety. Aegeas, no longer able to contain himself on hearing these words, ordered him to be hoisted on a cross, and to to die like Christ.
Having been brought to the place of execution and seeing the cross at some distance, Andrew began to cry out: “O good Cross, made beautiful by the body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously loved, so unceasingly sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! Take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master, that by you He may receive me, who by you redeemed me.” He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the faith of Christ, after which he passed to Him, whose death he had so coveted. Andrew’s relics were first translated to Constantinople, under the emperor Constantine, and afterwards to Amalfi. During the Pontificate of Pius II the head was taken to Rome and placed in the Basilica of Saint Peter.Dom Prosper Guéranger:
This feast is destined each year to terminate with solemnity the Cycle which is at its close, or to add lustre to the new one which has just begun. It seems indeed fitting that the Christian year should begin and end with the cross which has merited for us each of those years which it has pleased the divine goodness to grant us, and which is to appear, on the last day, in the clouds of Heaven, as the seal put on time. We should remember that Saint Andrew is the Apostle of the Cross. To Peter, Jesus has given firmness of faith, to John warmth of love. The mission of Andrew is to represent the Cross of His divine Master. Now it is by these three, faith, love and the Cross, that the Church renders herself worthy of her Spouse. Everything she has or is, bears this threefold character. Hence it is that after the two Apostles just named, there is none who holds such a prominent place in the universal Liturgy as Saint Andrew.
The Greek Church is as fervent as any of the Churches of the West in celebrating the prerogatives and merits of Saint Andrew. He is the more dear to it because Constantinople considers him as her patron Apostle. It would, perhaps, be difficult for the Greeks to give any solid proofs of Saint Andrew’s having founded, as they pretend, the Church of Byzantium: but this is certain, that Constantinople enjoyed for many centuries the possession of the precious treasure of the Saint’s relics. They were translated to that city in the year 357, through the interest of the Emperor Constantius, who placed them in the Basilica of the Apostles built by Constantine. Later on, that is, about the middle of the 6th century, Justinian caused them to be translated a second time, but only from one part of that same Basilica to another.
The Church of Constantinople, so devoted, as we have seen, to the glory of Saint Andrew, was at length deprived of the precious treasure of his eelics. This happened in the year 1210 when the City was taken by the Crusaders. Cardinal Peter of Capua, the Legate of the Holy See, translated the body of Saint Andrew into the Cathedral of Amalfi, a town in the Kingdom of Naples, where it remains to this day, the glorious instrument of numberless miracles, and the object of the devout veneration of the people. It is well known how, at the same period, the most precious relics of the Greek Church came, by a visible judgement of God, into the possession of the Latins. Byzantium refused to accept those terrible warnings and continued obstinate in her schism. She was still in possession of the Head of the holy Apostle, owing, no doubt, to this circumstance, that in the several Translations which had been made, it had been kept in a separate reliquary by itself. When the Byzantine Empire was destroyed by the Turks, Divine Providence so arranged events as that the Church of Rome should be enriched with this magnificent relic. In 1462, the Head of Saint Andrew was, therefore, brought there by the celebrated Cardinal Bessarion. And on the twelfth of April of that same year, Palm Sunday, the heroic Pope Pius II went in great pomp to meet it as far as the Bridge Milvius (Ponte Molle), and then placed it in the Basilica of Saint Peter, on the Vatican, where it is at present, near the Confession of the Prince of the Apostles. At the sight of this venerable Head, Pius II was transported with a religious enthusiasm, and before taking up the glorious relic in order to carry it into Rome, he pronounced the magnificent address which we now give:
“At length, you have arrived, O most holy and venerable head of the saintly Apostle! The fury of the Turks has driven you from thy resting-place, and you are come as an exile to your brother, the Prince of the Apostles. No, your brother will not fail you. And by the will of God, the day will come when men will say in your praise: happy banishment which caused you to receive such a welcome! Meanwhile, here will you dwell with your brother and share in his honours. This is Rome, the venerable City, which was dedicated by your brother’s precious blood. The people you see, are they whom the blessed Apostle, your most loving brother, and Saint Paul, the Vessel of Election, regenerated to Christ our Lord. Thus the Romans are your kinsmen. They venerate, and honour, and love you as their Father’s brother, nay, as their second Father, and are confident of your patronage in the presence of the great God. Most blessed Apostle Andrew! Preacher of the truth and defender of the dogma of the most Holy Trinity! With what joy do you not fill us on this day on which it is given us to behold your sacred and venerable head which deserved that, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Paraclete should rest on it in the form of fire! O you Christians that visit Jerusalem out of reference for your Saviour, that there you may see the places where His feet have stood: Lo! here is the throne of the Holy Ghost. Here sat the Spirit of the Lord. Here was seen the Third Person of the Trinity. Here were the eyes that so often saw Jesus in the flesh. This was the mouth that so often spoke to Jesus, and on these cheeks did that same Lord doubtless impress His sacred kisses.
O wondrous Sanctuary in which dwelt charity, and kindness, and gentleness, and spiritual consolation. Who could look upon such venerable and precious relics of the Apostle of Christ and not be moved? and not be filled with tender devotion? and not shed tears for very joy? Yes, O most admirable Apostle Andrew, we rejoice, and are glad, and exult, at this your coming, for we doubt not but what you yourself are present here and bear us company as we enter with your head into the Holy City.
The Turks are indeed our enemies, as being the enemies of the Christian Religion, but in that they have been the occasion of your coming among us, we are grateful to them. For, what greater blessing could have befallen us than that we should be permitted to see your most sacred head, and that our Rome should be filled with its fragrance? Oh that we could welcome you with the honours which are due to you, and receive you in a way becoming your exceeding holiness! But, accept our good will and our sincere desire to honour you, and suffer us now to touch your relics with our unworthy hands and, though sinners, to accompany you into the walls of the City. Enter, then, the Holy City, and show your love to her people. May your coming be a boon to Christendom. May your entrance be peaceful, and your abode among us bring happiness and prosperity. Be our advocate in Heaven and, together with blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, defend this City, and protect, with your love, all Christian people that, by your intercession, the mercy of God may be upon us, and if His indignation be kindled against us by reason of our manifold sins, let it fall upon the impious Turks and the pagan nations that blaspheme our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Thus has the glory of Saint Andrew been blended in Rome with that of Saint Peter. But the Apostle of the Cross whose feast was heretofore kept in many Churches with an Octave, has also been chosen as Patron of one of the Kingdoms of the West. Scotland, when she was a Catholic country, had put herself under his protection. May he still exercise his protection over her, and, by his prayers, hasten her return to the true faith!
Let us now, in union with the Church, pray to this holy Apostle, for this is the glorious day of his feast: let us pay him that honour which is due to him, and ask him for the help of which we stand in need.
God grants us to meet you, O blessed Andrew, at the threshold of the mystic Season of Advent on which we are so soon to enter. When Jesus, our Messiah, began His public life, you had already become the obedient disciple of the Precursor who preached His coming: you were among the first of them who received the Son of Mary as the Messiah foretold in the law and the prophets. But you could not keep the heavenly secret from him who was so dear to you. To Peter, then, you bore the good tidings, and led him to Jesus. O blessed Apostle, we also are longing for the Messiah, the Saviour of our souls. Since you have found Him, lead us also to Him. We place under your protection the holy period of expectation and preparation which is to bring us to the day of our Saviour’s Nativity, that divine mystery in which He will manifest Himself to the world. Assist us to render ourselves worthy of seeing Him on that great night. The baptism of penance prepared you for receiving the grace of knowing the Word of life. pray for us that we may become truly penitent and may purify our hearts during that holy time, and thus be able to behold Him who has said: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”
You have a special power of leading souls to Jesus, O glorious Saint! for even he, who was to be made the pastor of the whole flock, was presented to the Messiah by you. By calling you to Himself on this day, our Lord has given you as the patron of Christians who each year, seeking again that God in whom you are now living, pray to you to show them the way which leads to Jesus.
You teach us this way: it is that of fidelity, of fidelity even to the Cross. In that way you courageously walked, and because the Cross leads to Jesus Christ, you passionately loved the Cross. Pray for us, O holy Apostle, that we may begin to understand this love of the Cross, and that having understood it, we may put it in practice. Your brother says to us in his Epistle: “Christ having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought” (1 Peter iv. 1) Your feast, O blessed Andrew, shows us you as the living commentary of this doctrine. Because your Master was crucified, you would also be crucified. From the high throne to which you have been raised by the Cross, pray for us that the Cross may be to us the expiation of the sins which are upon us, the quenching of the passions which burn within us, and the means of uniting us by love to Him, who, through love alone for us, was nailed to the Cross.
Important, indeed, and precious are these lessons of the Cross. But the Cross, O blessed Apostle, is the perfection and the consummation, and not the first commencement. It is the Infant God, it is the God of the Crib that we must first know and love. It was the Lamb of God that Saint John pointed out to you, and it is that Lamb whom we so ardently desire to contemplate. The austere and awful time of Jesus’ Passion is not come. We are now in Advent. Fortify us for the day of combat, but the grace we now most need is compunction and tender love. We put under your patronage this great work of our preparation for the Coming of Jesus into our hearts.
Remember also, O blessed Andrew, the holy Church of which you were a pillar and which you have beautified by the shedding of your blood: lift up your hands for her to Him whose battle she is forever fighting. Pray that the Cross she has to bear in this her pilgrimage may be lightened, that she may love this Cross, and that it may be the source of her power and her glory. Remember with special love the holy Roman Church, the Mother and Mistress of all Churches. And by reason of that fervent love she has for you, obtain for her victory and peace by the Cross. Visit anew, in your Apostolic zeal, the Church of Constantinople which has forfeited true light and unity because she would not render homage to Peter, your brother, whom you honoured as your chief, out of love to Him who is the common Master of both him and you.
And here is his story from the East:
Today is the Feast of the Holy and All-Praiseworthy Apostle Andrew the First-Called.
The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ (John 1:35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from his youth, he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and he worked with his brother as a fisherman. When the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, Saint Andrew became his closest disciple. Declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God, Saint John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian.
After the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, Saint Andrew went to the Eastern lands preaching the Word of God. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached the River Danube, went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea region and along the River Dnipro he climbed to the place where the city of Kyiv now stands.
He stopped overnight on the hills of Kyiv. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: “See these hills? Upon these hills shall shine forth the beneficence of God, and there will be a great city here, and God shall raise up many churches.” The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dnipro and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium, the future Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew links the mother, the Church of Constantinople, with her daughter, the Russian Church.
On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out of their cities and they beat him. In Sinope, they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persistent disciple of Christ continued to preach to people about the Saviour. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the Lord worked miracles. By the labours of the holy Apostle Andrew, Christian Churches were established, for which he provided bishops and clergy. The final city to which the Apostle came was the city of Patra, where he was destined to suffer martyrdom.
The Lord worked many miracles through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness and Maximilla and Stratokles, the wife and brother of the governor of Patra, were healed. The miracles accomplished by the Apostle and his fiery speech enlightened almost all the citizens of the city of Patra with the True Faith.
Few pagans remained at Patra, but among them was the prefect of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of the Gospel. But even the miracles of the Apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy Apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought he might undo Saint Andrew’s preaching if he were to put him to death on the cross.
Saint Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the prefect with joy and with prayer to the Lord and went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail the saint’s hands and feet, but to tie them to the cross. For two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take Saint Andrew down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, said: “Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.” Then a blazing ray of divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the light faded, the holy Apostle Andrew had already given up his holy soul to the Lord. Maximilla, the wife of the prefect, had the body of the saint taken down from the cross, and buried him with honour.
A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles beside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and Saint Paul’s disciple Saint Timothy.
Troparion — Tone 4
Andrew, first-called of the Apostles / and brother of the foremost disciple, / entreat the Master of all / to grant peace to the world / and to our souls great mercy.
Kontakion — Tone 2
Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God, / the namesake of courage, / the first-called of the Savior’s disciples / and the brother of Peter. / As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us: / “Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!”