The name “Andrew” (Gr., andreia, manhood, or valour), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the second or third century B.C., after the Conquest of both Syria and Palestine on the one hand and Egypt on the other by Alexander the Great at the beginning of what we now call “the Hellenistic Period” of Ancient History. During this time, the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek at Alexandria under the Ptolemies and was “published” in the 70 book form we now call the “Septuagint”, and the Hebrew Religion and tradition of cultural and historical literacy thus became well-known throughout the Ancient World.
St. Andrew, the Apostle, son of Jonah, or John (Matthew 16:17; John 1:42), was born in Bethesda of Galilee (John 1:44). He was brother of Simon (Peter) (Matthew 10:2; John 1:40). Both were fishermen (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16), and at the beginning of Jesus’s public life occupied the same house at Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29).
From the Gospel of John we learn that Andrew was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist (there are a confusing number of “Johns” in the NT), whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus (John 1:35-40). Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce Him to his brother, Peter, (John 1:41). Thenceforth the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11; Matthew 4:19-20; Mark 1:17-18).
Finally Andrew was chosen to be one of the Twelve; and in the various lists of Apostles given in the New Testament (Matthew 10:2-4); Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) he is always numbered among the first four. The only other explicit reference to him in the Synoptists occurs in Mark 13:3, where we are told he joined with his brother Peter, James and John in putting the question that led to Jesus’s great eschatological discourse. In addition to this scanty information, we learn from the Gospel of Saint John that on the occasion of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who said: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?” (John 6:8-9); and when, a few days before Jesus’ death, certain Greeks asked Philip that they might see Jesus, Philip referred the matter to Andrew as to one of greater authority, and then both told Christ (John 12:20-22). Like the majority of the Twelve, Andrew is not named in the Acts except in the list of the Apostles, where the order of the first four is his brother Peter, John, James, Andrew; nor do Paul’s Epistles or the Apocalypse of Saint John make any mention of him.
The apocryphal Acts of Andrew, mentioned by Eusebius, Epiphanius and others, are among the otherwise unconnected volumes of Acts of the Apostles that have traditionally attributed to Leucius Charinus, at least once alleged to be a follower of Saint John the Apostle. “These Acts may be the latest of the five leading apostolic romances. They belong to the third century: ca. A.D. 260,” was the opinion of M. R. James, who edited them in 1924. The Acts, as well as a (probably Gnostic) Gospel of St Andrew, appear among books rejected by the Second Council of Nicea in 787 A.D., if not before, and listed in the Decretum Gelasianum (a list allegedly made by Pope Gelasius I). Constantin von Tischendorf edited The Acts of Andrew in hi Acta Apostolorum apocrypha (Leipzig, 1821), putting it for the first time into the hands of a critical professional readership. Another version of Andrew’s semi-mythological history can be found in the Passio Andreae, edited by Max Bonnet (Supplementum II Codicis apocryphi, Paris, 1895).
From what we know of the Apostles generally, we can, of course, supplement somewhat these few details. As one of the Twelve, Andrew was admitted to the closest familiarity with Jesus Christ during His public life; Andrew was certainly present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Christ after Easter (but did not ask to touch his wounds in the manner of Saint Thomas); witnessed Christ’s Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the coming of the Holy Spirit on first Pentecost, where he probably “spoke in tongues” and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish Christianity in its never quite completely friendly Palestinian homeland (what is now Israel and “the West Bank”, divided by the most gigantic walls and heavily guarded small townships in the world, small townships such as Bethlehem and Nazareth).
When the Apostles left Palestine to preach to the Gentiles, Andrew seems to have taken an important part, but there is no certain documentation as to the extent of his travels or the location of his preaching (nor of anything that happened during those travels or preaching except for his crucifixion). Eusebius (Church History III.1), relying, apparently, upon Origen, assigns Scythia (a famed Barbarian land always in conflict with the Greeks and Romans, famous for its archers and goldworkers and lying in the territories which now for the Ukraine or Southwestern Russia north of the Caucasus) as his mission field: Andras de [eilechen] ten Skythian; while St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Oration 33) mentions Epirus; St. Jerome (Ep. ad Marcell.) Achaia; and Theodoret (on Ps. cxvi) Hellas. Probably these various accounts are correct, for Nicephorus (H.E. II:39), relying upon early writers, states that Andrew preached in Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, (all in what is now called “Anatolia” in the [soon to be European Union] Republic of Turkey) then in the land of the anthropophagi and the Scythian deserts, afterwards in Byzantium (later called “Constantinople” or “the Second Rome”) itself, where he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop, and finally in Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia. It is generally agreed that he was crucified by order of the Roman Governor, Aegeas or Aegeates, at the city of Patras in Achaia (Northwestern Peloponnesian Peninsula), and that he was bound, not nailed, to the cross, in order to prolong his sufferings. The cross on which he suffered is commonly held to have been the “X”-shaped or “decussate” cross, now known as St. Andrew’s, though the evidence for this view seems to be no older than the fourteenth century. His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero, on 30 November, A.D. 60); and both the Latin and Greek Churches keep 30 November as his feast. Andrew is sometimes considered the founder and first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
St. Andrew’s relics were translated from Patras to Constantinople, and deposited in the church of the Apostles there, about A.D. 357. When Constantinople was taken by the French, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, Cardinal Peter of Capua brought the relics to Italy and placed them in the cathedral of Amalfi, where most of them still remain. St. Andrew is honoured as their chief patron by Russia and Scotland (where today, his day, is a National and Banking Holiday).
The History of Saint Andrew in Scotland
About the middle of the 10th century, well before the time of Macbeth and Duncan, and thus in the very dimmest periods of Scottish proto-history, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. Several legends state that the relics of Andrew came supernaturally from Constantinople to the place where stands the modern town of St Andrews of Scotland today (Gaelic, Cill Rìmhinn).
Two of oldest surviving manuscripts include one among the manuscripts collected by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and left to Louis XIV of France, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and another among the Harleian Mss in the British Library, London. These texts concur that the relics of Andrew came to Scotland from “Regulus” to the Pictish king Óengus mac Fergusa (729–761). The only historical “Regulus” (Riagail or Rule) — the name is preserved by the tower of St Rule — recorded anywhere appears to be an Irish monk expelled from Ireland with Saint Columba (Columba was one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland” whose greatest monument and heritage was his Mission to Iona in Scotland in 563). The relics may actually have originated in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. 732), and founded a see, not, according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews. The connection made with Regulus might, therefore, have been little more than “Nation-building propaganda” originating in a desire to date the foundation of the church at St. Andrew in Scotland as early as possible.
According to legend, long before the time of Macbeth or Duncan, in 832 AD, Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford, East Lothian.
The legend states that whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in terms of numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud phenomenon as representing the crux decussataupon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly appointed Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland on the basis of this legend. However, at least some evidence suggests that Andrew was venerated in Scotland before this.
Andrew’s connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, when the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been “outranked” by Peter and that Peter’s brother would make a higher ranking patron. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”. Numerous parish churches in the Church of Scotland and congregations of other Christian churches in Scotland are named after Andrew. The national church of the Scottish people in Rome, Sant’Andrea degli Scozzesi is also dedicated to St Andrew. Wherever the Scottish people have gone, they have taken Saint Andrew and his cross with them. The Scottish and Irish Heritage of the American South has been celebrated many times, not least in the (now politically incorrect) movies Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind.
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