Today is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle in both the East & the West.
From the East:
Today is the Feast of the Holy and All-Praiseworthy Apostle Andrew the First-Called.
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!”
After this he called them from their fishing, and said: Come, follow me, I shall make you fishers of men.
Then they left their ships and nets, and followed him, and after this they abode with him, and went no more to their own houses. And howbeit he called Andrew and some other to be apostles, of which calling, Matthew saith in the third chapter: He called to him them that he would.1
ST. ANDREW’S MISSION TO ETHIOPIA
And after the ascension of our Lord, the apostles were departed, and Andrew preached in Scythia and Matthew in Murgondy. And the men of this country refused utterly the preaching of St. Matthew, and drew out his eyes, and cast him in prison fast bounden.
In the meanwhile an angel, sent from our Lord, and commanded him to go to St. Matthew into Murgondy, and he answered that he knew not the way. And then the angel commanded him that he should go unto the seaside, and that he should enter into the first ship that he should find, and so he did gladly, in accomplishing the commandment, and went into the city by the leading of the angel, and had wind propitious. And when he was come he found the prison open, where St. Matthew was in; and when he saw him he wept sore and worshipped him; and then our Lord rendered and gave again to St. Matthew his two eyes and his sight.
And then St. Matthew departed from thence and came into Antioch, and St. Andrew abode in Murgondy, and they of the country were wroth that St. Matthew was so escaped. Then took they St. Andrew and drew him through the places, his hands bounden in such wise that the blood ran out. He prayed for them to Jesu Christ, and converted them by his prayer; and from thence he came to Antioch.
This that is said of the blinding of St. Matthew, I suppose that it is not true, nor that the evangelist was not so infirm, but that he might get for his sight that St. Andrew gat for him so lightly.
THE QUENCHING OF THE FIRE
It was so that a young man came and followed St. Andrew, against the will of all his parents and on a time his parents set fire on the house where he was with the apostle, and when the flame surmounted right high, the child took a brush full of water and sprinkled withal the fire, and anon the fire quenched. And then his friends and parents said: Our son is made an enchanter.
And as they would have gone up by the ladders, they were suddenly made blind, that they saw not the ladders, and then one of them recried and said: Wherefore enforce ye you against them? God fighteth for them and ye see it not. Cease ye and leave off, lest the ire of our Lord fall on you.
Then many of them that saw this believed in our Lord, and the parents died within forty days after, and were put in one sepulchre.
THE PREGNANT WOMAN WHO PRAYED TO DIANA
There was a woman with child, joined in wedlock with a homicide, who was troubled greatly upon her deliverance; and at the time of childing she might not be delivered. She bade her sister to "go to Diana and pray to her that she help me." She went and prayed, and Diana said to her, which was the devil in an idol: Wherefore prayest thou to me? I may not help ne profit thee, but go unto Andrew the apostle which may help thee and thy sister.
And she went to him, and brought him to her sister, which travailed in great pain, and began to perish. And the apostle said to her: By good right thou sufferest this pain; thou conceivedst in treachery and sin, and thou counselledst with the devil. Repent thee, and believe in Jesu Christ, and thou shalt be anon delivered of thy child.
And when she believed and was repentant, she was delivered of her child, and the pain and sorrow passed and ceased.
NICHOLAS THE OLD MAN ALWAYS IN LECHERY
An old man called Nicholas by name, went unto the apostle and said to him: Sir, I have lived fifty years, and always in lechery. And I took on a time a gospel, in praying God that he would give me from then forthon continence. But I am accustomed in this sin, and full of evil delectation, in such wise that I shall return to this sin accustomed.
On a time that I was inflamed by luxury, I went to the bordel, and forgat the gospel upon me, and anon the foul woman said: ‘Go hence thou old man, for thou art an angel of God, touch me not, nor come not near me, for I see marvel upon thee.’ And I was abashed of the word of the woman, and I remembered that I had the gospel upon me, wherefore I beseech thee to pray God for me and for my health.
And when St. Andrew heard this he began to weep, and prayed from tierce unto nones. And when he arose he would not eat, and said: I shall eat no meat till I know whether our Lord shall have pity of this old man.
And when he had fasted five days, a voice came to St. Andrew and said to him: Andrew, thy request is granted for the old man, for like as thou hast fasted and made thyself lean, so shall he fast and make himself lean by fastings for to be saved.
And so he did, for he fasted six months to bread and water; and after that he rested in peace and good works. Then came a voice that said: I have gotten Nicholas by thy prayers whom I had lost.
A CHRISTIAN YOUTH ACCUSED OF INCESTUOUS DESIRES
A young Christian man said to St. Andrew: My mother saw that I was fair, and required me for to have to do sin with her; and when I would not consent to her in no manner, she went to the judge, and would return and lay to me the sin of so great a felony. Pray for me that I die not so untruly; for when I shall be accused I shall hold my peace and speak not one word, and have liefer to die than to defame and slander my mother so foully.
Thus came he to judgment, and his mother accused him, saying that he would have defouled her. And it was asked of him oft if it was so as she said, and he answered nothing. Then said St. Andrew to her: Thou art most cruel of all women, which for the accomplishment of thy lechery wilt make thy son to die.
Then said this woman to the provost: Sir, sith that my son came, and accompanied with this man, he would have done his will with me, but I withstood him that he might not.
And anon the provost and judge commanded that the son should be put in a sack anointed with glue, and thrown into the river, and St. Andrew to be put in prison till he had advised him how he might torment him. But St. Andrew made his prayer to God, and anon came an horrible thunder, which feared them all, and made the earth to tremble strongly and the woman was smitten with the thunder unto the death. And the other prayed the apostle that they might not perish, and he prayed for them, and the tempest ceased. Thus then the provost believed in God, and all his meiny.
After this, as the apostle was in the city of Nice, the citizens said to him that there were seven devils without the city, by the highway, which slew all them that passed forthby. And the apostle Andrew commanded them to come to him, which came in the likeness of dogs, and sith he commanded them that they should go whereas they should not grieve ne do harm to any man; and anon they vanished away. And when the people saw this they received the faith of Jesu Christ.
And when the apostle came to the gate of another city there was brought out a young man dead. The apostle demanded what was befallen him, and it was told him that seven dogs came and strangled him. Then the apostle wept and said: O Lord God, I know well that these were the devils that I put out of Nice; and after said to the father of him that was dead: What wilt thou give to me if I raise him?
And he said: I have nothing so dear as him, I shall give him to thee. And anon the apostle made his prayers unto almighty God, and raised him from death to life, and he went and followed him.
ST. ANDREW RESURRECTS 40 DROWNED MEN
On a time there were forty men by number, which were coming by the sea, sailing unto the apostle, for to receive of him the doctrine of the faith. And the devil raised and moved a great storm and so horrible a torment that all they were drowned together. And when their bodies were brought tofore the apostle, he raised them from death to life anon, and there they said all that was befallen to them. And therefore it is read in an hymn that he rendered the life to young men drowned in the sea.
ST. ANDREW IS MARTYRED IN ACHAIA
And the blessed St. Andrew, whilst he was in Achaia, he replenished all the country with churches and converted the people to the faith of Jesu Christ and informed the wife of Ægeas, which was provost and judge of the town, in the faith, and baptized her. And when Ægeas heard this he came into the city of Patras and constrained the Christians to sacrifice. And St. Andrew came unto him, and said: It behoveth thee which hast deserved to be a judge, to know thy judge which is in heaven, and he so known, to worship him, and so worshipping, withdraw thy courage from the false gods.
And Ægeas said: Thou art Andrew that preachest a false law, which the princes of Rome have commanded to be destroyed.
To whom Andrew said: The princes of Rome knew never how the son of God came and taught and informed them that the idols be devils, and he that teacheth such things angereth God, and he, so angered, departeth from them that he heareth them not, and therefore be they caitiffs of the devil and be so illused and deceived that they issue out of the body all naked, and bear nothing with them but sins.
And Ægeas said to him: These be the vanities that your Jesus preached, which was nailed on the gallows of the cross.
To whom Andrew said: He received with his agreement the gibbet of the cross, not for his culp and trespass, but for our redemption.
And Ægeas said: When he was delivered of his disciple, taken and holden with the Jews, and crucified by the knyghts, how sayst thou that it was by his agreement?
Then St. Andrew began to show by five reasons that Jesu Christ received death by his own agreement and will, forasmuch as he came tofore his passion, and said to his disciples that it should be, when he said: We shall go up to Jerusalem, and the son of the maid shall be betrayed. And also for that Peter would withdraw him, he reproved him, and said: Go after me, Sathanas. And also for that he showed that he had power to suffer death, and to rise again when he said: I have power to put away my soul and to take it again. And also for that he knew tofore him that betrayed him, when he gave him his supper, and showed him not. And also for that he chose the place where he should be taken, for he knew well that the traitor should come. And St. Andrew said that he had been at all these things, and yet he said more, that the mystery of the cross was great.
To whom Ægeas said: It may not be said mystery, but torment, and if thou wilt not grant to my sayings, truly I shall make thee prove this mystery.
And Andrew said to him: If I doubted the gibbet of the cross I would not preach the glory thereof. I will that thou hear the mystery, and if thou knew and believedst on it thou shouldst be saved.
Then he showed to him the mystery of the cross, and assigned five reasons. The first is this: Forasmuch as the first man that deserved death was because of the tree, in breaking the commandment of God, then is it thing convenable that the second man should put away that death, in suffering the same on the tree.
The second was that, he that was made of earth not corrupted, and was breaker of the commandment, then was it thing convenable that he that should repel this default, should be born of a virgin.
The third; for so much as Adam had stretched his hand disordinately to the fruit forbidden, it was thing convenable that the new Adam should stretch his hands on the cross.
The fourth; for so much as Adam had tasted sweetly the fruit forbidden, it is therefore reason that it be put away by thing contrary; so that Jesu Christ was fed with bitter gall.
The fifth; for as much as Jesu Christ gave to us his immortality, it is thing reasonable, that he take our mortality. For if Jesu Christ had not been dead, man had never been made immortal.
And then said Ægeas: Tell to thy disciples such vanities, and obey thou to me, and make sacrifice unto the gods almighty.
And then said St. Andrew: I offer every day unto God Almighty, a lamb without spot, and after that he is received of all the people, so liveth he and is all whole.
Then demanded Ægeas how that might be.
And Andrew said: Take the form for to be a disciple, and thou shalt know it well.
I shall demand thee, said Ægeas, by torments. Then he being all angry, commanded that he should be enclosed in prison, and on the morn he came to judgment, and the blessed St. Andrew unto the sacrifice of the idols. And Ægeas commanded to be said to him: If thou obey not to me, I shall do hang thee on the cross, for so much as thou hast praised it.
And thus as he menaced him of many torments St. Andrew said to him: Think what torment that is most grievous that thou mayst do to me, and the more I suffer, the more I shall be agreeable to my king, because I shall be most firm in the torments and pain.
Then commanded Ægeas that he should be beaten of twenty-one men, and that he should be so beaten, bounden by the feet and hands unto the cross, to the end that his pain should endure the longer. And when he was led unto the cross, there ran much people [shouting, "An innocent man is condemned to shed his blood without cause." The apostle, however, begged them not to try to save him from martyrdom.]2
And when he saw the cross from far he saluted it, and said: All hail cross which art dedicate in the body of Jesu Christ, and wert adorned with the members of him, as of precious stones. Tofore that our Lord ascended on thee, thou wert the power earthly, now thou art the love of heaven; thou shalt receive me by my desire. I come to thee surely and gladly so that thou receive me gladly as disciple of him that hung on thee. For I have alway worshipped thee and have desired thee to embrace. O thou cross which hast received beauty and noblesse of the members of our Lord, whom I have so long desired and curiously loved, and whom my courage hath so much desired and coveted, take me from hence, and yield me to my master, to the end that he may receive me by thee.
And in thus saying, he despoiled and unclad him, and gave his clothes unto the butchers. And then they hung him on the cross, like as to them was commanded. And there he lived two days, and preached to twenty thousand men that were there.
Then all the company swore the death of Ægeas, and said: The holy man and debonair ought not to suffer this.
Then came thither Ægeas for to take him down off the cross. And when Andrew saw him he said: Wherefore art thou come to me, Ægeas? If it be for penance thou shalt have it, and if it be for to take me down, know thou for certain thou shalt not take me hereof alive; for I see now my lord and king that abideth for me.
Therewith they would have unbound him, and they might in nowise touch him for their arms were bynomen and of no power. And when the holy St. Andrew saw that the world would have taken him down off the cross he made this orison hanging on the cross, as St. Austin saith in the book of penance: Sire, suffer me not to descend from this cross alive, for it is time that thou command my body to the earth, for I have born long the charge, and have so much watched upon that which was commanded to me, and have so long travailed, that I would now be delivered of this obedience, and be taken away from this agreeable charge. I remember that it is much grievous, in proud bearing, in doubting, unsteadfast in nourishing, and have gladly laboured in the refraining of them. Sire, thou knowest how oft the world hath entended to withdraw me from the purity of contemplation, how oft he hath entended to awake me from the sleep of my sweet rest, how much and how oft times he hath made me to sorrow, and as much as I have had might I have resisted it right debonairly in fighting against it, and have by thy work and aid surmounted it: and I require of thee just and debonair guerdon and reward, and that thou command that I go not again thereto, but I yield to thee that which thou hast delivered me. Command it to another and empesh me no more, but keep me in the resurrection, so that I may receive the merit of my labour. Command my body unto the earth, so that it behoveth no more to wake, but let it be stretched freely to thee, which art fountain of joy never failing.
And when he had said this, there came from heaven a right great shining light, which environed him by the space of half an hour, in such wise that no man might see him. And when this light departed he yielded and rendered therewith his spirit. And Maximilla, the wife of Ægeas, took away the body of the apostle, and buried it honourably. And ere that Ægeas was come again to his house, he was ravished with a devil by the way, and died tofore them all.
And it is said that out of the sepulchre of St. Andrew cometh manna like unto meal, and oil which hath a right sweet savour and odour. And by that is shewed to the people of the country when there shall be plenty of goods. For when ther cometh but little of manna, the earth shall bring forth but little fruit, and when it cometh abundantly, the earth bringeth forth fruit plenteously. And this might well happen of old time, for the body of him was transported into Constantinople.
MIRACLES OF ST. ANDREW
The Bishop and the Devil in Disguise of a Woman
There was a bishop that led an holy and religious life, and loved St. Andrew by great devotion, and worshipped him above all other saints, so that in all his works he remembered him every day, and said certain prayers in the honour of God and St. Andrew, in such wise that the enemy had envy on him, and set him for to deceive him with all his malice, and transformed him into the form of a right fair woman, and came to the palace of the bishop, and said that she would be confessed to him.
And the bishop bade her to go confess her to his penitencer, which had plain power of him.
And she sent him word again that she would not reveal nor show the secrets of her confession to none but to him, and so the bishop commanded her to come; and she said to him: Sir, I pray thee that thou have mercy on me; I am so as ye see in the years of my youth, and a maid, and was deliciously nourished from my infancy, and born of royal lineage, but I am come alone, in a strange habit; for my father which is a right mighty king would give me to a prince by marriage; whereto I answer that I have horror of all beds of marriage, and I have given my virginity to Jesu Christ for ever, and therefore I may not consent to carnal copulation. And in the end he constrained me so much that I must consent to his will or suffer divers torments; so that I am fled secretly away, and had liefer be in exile, than to break and corrupt my faith to my spouse. And because I hear the praising of your right holy life, I am fled unto you and to your guard, in hope that I may find with you place of rest, whereas I may be secret in contemplation, and eschew the evil perils of this present life, and flee the diverse tribulations of the world.
Of which thing the bishop marvelled him greatly, as well for the great noblesse of her lineage, as for the beauty of her body, for the burning of the great love of God, and for the honest fair speaking of this woman. So that the bishop answered to her, with a meek and pleasant voice: Daughter, be sure and doubt nothing; for he for whose love thou hast despised thyself and these things, shall give to thee the great thing. In this time present is little glory or joy, but it shall be in time to come. And I which am sergeant of the same, offer me to thee, and my goods; and choose thee an house where it shall please thee, and I will that thou dine with me this day.
And she answered and said: Father, require of me no such thing, for by adventure some evil suspicion might come thereof. And also the resplendour of your good renomee might be thereby impaired.
To whom the bishop answered: We shall be many together, and I shall not be with you alone, and therefore there may be no suspicion of evil. Then they came to the table, and were set, that one against that other, and the other folk here and there, and the bishop entendeth much to her, and beheld her alway in the visage, and he marvelled of her great beauty. And thus as he fixed his eyes on her his courage was hurt, and the ancient enemy, when he saw the heart of him, hurt [him] with a grievous dart. And this devil apperceived it and began to increase her beauty more and more; insomuch that the bishop was then ready for to require her to sin when he might.
Then a pilgrim came and began to smite strongly at the gate or door, and they would not open it. Then he cried and knocked more strongly; and the bishop asked of the woman if she would that the pilgrim should enter.
And she said; Men should ask first of him a question, grievous enough, and if he could answer thereto, he should be received, and if he could not, he should abide without, and not come in, as he that were not worthy but unwitting.
And all agreed to her sentence, and enquired which of them were sufficient to put the question. And when none was found sufficient, the bishop said: None of us is so sufficient as ye, dame, for ye pass us all in fair speaking, and shine in wisdom more than we all; propose ye the question.
Then she said: Demand ye of him, which is the greatest marvel that ever God made in little space.
And then one went and demanded the pilgrim. The pilgrim answered to the messenger that it was the diversity and excellence of the faces of men: for among all so many men as have been sith the beginning of the world unto the end, two men might not be found of whom their faces were like and semblable in all things.
And when the answer was heard, all they marvelled and said that this was a very and right good answer of the question. Then the woman said: Let the second question be proposed to him, which shall be more grievous to answer to, for to prove the better the wisdom of him, which was this: Whether the earth is higher than all the heaven?
And when it was demanded of him the pilgrim answered: In the heaven imperial where the body of Jesu Christ is, which is form of our flesh, he is more high than all the heaven.
Of this answer they marvelled all when the messenger reported it, and praised marvellously his wisdom. Consequently she said the third question, which was more dark and grievous to assoil. For to prove the third time his wisdom, and that then he be worthy to be received at the bishop's table, demand and ask of him; How much space is from the abysm unto the same heaven.
Then the messenger demanded of the pilgrim, and he answered him: Go to him that sent thee to me and ask of him this thing, for he knoweth better than I, and can better answer to it, for he hath measured this space when he fell from heaven into the abysm, and I never measured it. This is nothing a woman but it is a devil which hath taken the form of a woman.
And when the messenger heard this, he was sore afraid and told tofore them all this that he had heard. And when the bishop heard this and all other, they were sore afraid. And anon forthwith, the devil vanished away tofore their eyes.
And after, the bishop came again to himself, and reproved himself bitterly, weeping, repenting and requiring pardon of his sin, and sent a messenger for to fetch and bring in the pilgrim, but he found him never after. Then the bishop assembled the people, and told to them the manner of this thing, and prayed them that they would all be in orisons and prayers, in such wise that our lord would show to some person who this pilgrim was which had delivered him from so great peril.
And then it was showed that night to the bishop that it was St. Andrew which had put him in the habit of a pilgrim for the deliverance of him. Then began the bishop more and more to have devotion and remembrance to St. Andrew than he had tofore.
The Provost Who Took from the Church of St. Andrew
The provost of a city had taken away a field from the church of St. Andrew, and by the prayer of the bishop he was fallen into a strong fever. And then he prayed the bishop that he would pray for him, and he would again yield the field. And when the bishop had prayed for him, and he had his health, he [the provost] took the field again.
Then the bishop put himself to prayer and orisons, and brake all the lamps of the church, and said: There shall none of them be lighted till that our Lord hath venged him on his enemy, and that the church have recovered that which she hath lost.
And then the provost was strongly tormented with fevers, and sent to the bishop by messengers that he should pray for him, and he would yield again his field and another semblable.
Then the bishop answered: I have heretofore prayed for him, and God heard and granted my prayer, and when he was whole, he took from me again the field. And then the provost made him to be borne to the bishop, and constrained him for to enter into the church for to pray. And the bishop entered into the church, and anon the provost died, and the field was re-established unto the church.
Et sic est finis. ["And this is the end."]
And 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.
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