Andrew the Apostle

Andrew the Apostle (a.k.a. Saint Andrew the Brother of Simon Peter, a.k.a.: Andrew the First Called, the Protokletos)

Icon of Saint Andrew

Saint Andrew is one of the four fisherman chosen and invested (ordained, see Mark 3:14) by Jesus to be His disciples (see Mark 1:16-20); his “fishers of men“. He is one of the twelve apostles also chosen and invested (ordained, see Mark 3:14) by Jesus.

Note that the Greek word apostolos means messenger, envoy, or one commissioned by another to represent him in some way. The Latin translation of apostolos is missio, the root of the English word missionary.

His name Andrew (Greek: Andreas) is remarkable as it is a Greek name, which means manly or brave. No Hebrew or Aramaic is recorded for him. This is significant as it reflects the extent of Hellenization present in of the region of Galilee at that time.

At the time Jesus began his ministry, many Hebrews in Judea were alert to the imminent arrival of a Messiah who was understood to be coming to rescue God’s people, the Jews. The arrival of this “promised one“, was prophesied repeatedly in various books of the old testament. For example, the anticipation of this Messiah was a significant part of the glue that bound the Jewish Sect of the Essenes together. The Essenes were the group who kept and preserved the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. Prior to being called by Christ Andrews was a follower of John the Baptist (see John 1:35-42). Andrew and his brother Simon (Peter) were clearly not just Galilean fishermen, they were actively anticipating the coming of the promised Messiah.

Andrew is the apostle who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes, during the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:8). Andrew was also one of the four disciples who came to Jesus on the Mount of Olives to ask Him about the signs which would herald the return of Jesus’ at the “end of the age“.

Map of Scythia & Parthia (c. 100 B.C.)

After Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension Andrew is said to have traveled north and preached in Scythia. In A.D. 38 he founded the see of Byzantion (the city whose name Constantine the Great later changed to Constantinople) and seated Stachys as its first the bishop. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as the patron saint of Constantinople.

Eusebius of Caesarea in his book Church History (circa A.D. 320) quotes Origen of Alexandria (A.D. 209) as saying Andrew preached in Scythia. The Chronicle of Nestor (complied in Kiev around A.D. 1113) adds that he preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper River as far as the region of Kiev, and from there he traveled to Novgorod. Hence, Andrew also became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to Hippolytus of Rome (c. A.D. 170 to 235), he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the anonymous and non-canonical Acts of Andrew (written in the 2nd century); Basil of Seleucia (A.D. 448) also tells of the Apostle Andrew’s mission in Thrace, as well as to Scythia and Achaia.

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnesian Peninsula (of modern day Greece). Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew, which was known to Bishop Gregory of Tours (in his History of the Franks A.D. 575), describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; oral tradition has it that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called a crux decussata (an X-shaped cross, or “saltire“), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” — at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross that Jesus had been crucified on. The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, shows the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross.

The Flag of Scotland is the “Saltire” or the Cross of Saint Andrew

In A.D. 345 Regulus (Saint Rule) was told by an angel in a visionary dream that the Emperor Constantius II had decided to remove Saint Andrew’s relics from the Greek town of Patras to Constantinople. Regulus decided to move them out of Constantius’s reach. He is said to have taken them to “the far western end of the world” (that is to Scotland) to keep them safe from the emperor, where he should found a church dedicated to St Andrew. Thus Andrew also became the patron Saint of Scotland, and the national flag of Scotland is the Saltire (i.e., Saint Andrew’s Cross).