Saints of the Day – Andrew the Apostle

detail of a stained glass window in the church of Saint Martin, Tauberbischofsheim, Germany, date and artist unknown; photographed on 25 June 2012 by Reinhardhauke; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(also known as Andreas, Endres)

1st century; feast day formerly on November 3; feast of his translation, May 9. Andrew was a worrier, or so it seems, who concentrated on details. He wanted to know where Jesus lived (John 1:38), how they were going to feed a crowd (John 6:9), and when Jerusalem would be destroyed (Mark 13:4).

Born at Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, Andrew was a fisherman, the son of the fisherman John, and the brother of the fisherman Simon Peter. It’s no wonder then that Jesus called Andrew to be a fisher of men (Mark 1:16-18). Jesus stayed with the brothers at their second home in Caparnaum (Mark 1:29), so they must have been prosperous fishermen, which makes their commitment even more amazing.

It’s appropriate that we celebrate Saint Andrew’s feast at the beginning of Advent because he was first a disciple of John the Baptist, and, when he met the Lord of Creation at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, he became Jesus’ first disciple (John 1:29-40). Let’s ask Saint Andrew to bring us anew to the Lord as he also brought his brother Peter (John 1:41-42). For a time Andrew and Simon followed Jesus intermittently, but when the Savior returned to Galilee, he called them from fishing into ministry and they “dropped their nets immediately and followed Him (Matt. 4:20) (may we, too, as quickly drop our work to follow when the Lord calls). They left their families, their business, and their possessions.

With Philip, he presented the Gentiles to Christ (John 12:20-22) and pointed out the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8). After the Pentecost he is said to have preached the gospel in many regions, including Scythia (according to Eusebius), Epirus (according to Saint Gregory Nazianzen), or Achaia (per Saint Jerome). An ancient legend preserved in the Old English poem Andreas (once attributed to Cynewulf) has him preaching in Ethiopia. A later dubious tradition has him going to Byzantium, where he appointed Saint Stachys bishop.

Andrew is one of the few early disciples of Jesus about whom there are few legends. Rather than miraculous legends the story of Saint Andrew is the story of the Apostles. We always want extraordinary saints, and we are surprised to find that even among the Apostles there was one whose life was without miracles. Most saints have lived a simple, everyday life, sometimes miraculous, but only sometimes. Saint Andrew is just another indication that we, too, can live a simple, everyday life and still be saints. We, too, can live a life that is hidden in God and in His Church.

It’s uncertain where and how he died except that it was somewhere near the Black Sea, but an ancient tradition (4th century Acta) says he was crucified at Patras in Achaia on an X- shaped cross (now known as a Saint Andrew’s Cross). This tradition tells us that the proconsul tied him to the cross where he remained for several days preaching to all who came to watch the execution. And the tradition of his martyrdom at Patras was based on an early medieval forgery, strengthened by the translation of his alleged relics from Patras. The forgery was intended to provide a counterweight to Rome’s more solid claim to the relics of Saints Peter and Paul.

There is an unfounded tradition that he preached in Russia, reaching as far as Kiev in the Ukraine, from where the conversion of the country spread in the 11th century. He is also considered to be a patron of Scotland, where another tradition says some of his relics where brought in the 4th century in consequence of a dream of Saint Rule (Regulus), who was custodian of Andrew’s relics at Patras. Reportedly an angel guided Rule to a place called Saint Andrew’s, where Regulus built a church to house the relics, became its first bishop, and evangelized the Scots in the area for three decades. The church became a center of pilgrimage.

Crusaders stole Andrew’s alleged body in 1210 and took them to Amalfi, which still claims the relics. The head, considered one of the treasures of Saint Peter’s, was given to Pope Pius II by the despot Thomas Palaeologus in 1461, but was returned to Constantinople by Pope Paul VI.

Andrew’s feast was universal in the West from the 6th century. There are church dedications in his honor from early times in France, Italy, and England (at Rochester as early as 637). (Attwater, Attwater 2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, White).

Saint Andrew is generally pictured as an old man, generally with a book and transverse or saltire cross. Sometimes the image may contain (1) fish or a fishing net; (2) rope; (3) Andrew sitting in a boat (Roeder). In the most ancient images, he is depicted with a normal Latin cross. The X-cross was associated with him from the 10th century at Autun, but became common only in the 14th century (Farmer). There are several images available on the Internet:

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 August 2020. Web. 25 November 2020. <>