Saint Andrew’s Day
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said [“Behold the Lamb of God”] and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. John 1.40-42
The final day in November is celebrated as St Andrew’s Day. Andrew has been the Patron Saint of Scotland for over a thousand years. Reflecting what we read above in John’s Gospel, the Greek Orthodox tradition calls him the ‘protokletos’ – the ‘first called’ of Jesus’ disciples. Initially a disciple of John the Baptist, he believed John’s witness that Christ was the lamb of God and became Jesus’ first disciple – likely alongside the gospel writer John, son of Zebedee.
Many legends about Andrew have built up over the centuries – though with virtually no evidence to support them. He is supposed to have travelled extensively, preaching the gospel along the Black Sea as far as Kiev. In this way he has become the Patron Saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. He is said to have founded the diocese of Byzantium/ Constantinople, centred on one of the greatest cultural cities in the ancient world.
Patras in Achaea claims to be the place where he was finally martyred, crucified on an X-shaped cross (a saltire) in AD60. It is said he claimed to be unworthy to be crucified on a cross like that of Christ. The saltire thus became his symbol in Scotland and remains a central component of the Union Flag. The 30th November is the supposed date of his martrydom.
Andrew is linked to Scotland by the legend which says that several of his relics were brought to Fife sometime in the 4th century. The town of St Andrew’s, famous for its ancient university and renowned golf course is named after him for this reason.
To uncover the real St Andrew we need to turn to the record of the New Testament. One interesting thing about him is that in John’s gospel whenever he is mentioned he is bringing someone to Jesus! He brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus (John 1.42); he brought the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6.8); he brought the Greeks (John 12.20-22). One lesson we can learn from him is clearly to do with evangelism. As we encounter those who are far from God, like Andrew, we are to bring them to the person of Christ. If we can remember that this is what Andrew did his legacy will be an important one.
Sincerely in Christ