The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-called
Andrew, the son of Jonah and brother of Peter, was born in Bethsaida and was a fisherman by trade. At first he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but when St. John pointed to the Lord Jesus, saying, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36), Andrew left his first teacher and followed Christ. Then, Andrew brought his brother Peter to the Lord. Following the descent of the Holy Spirit, it fell by lot to the first
apostle of Christ, St. Andrew, to preach the Gospel in Byzantium and Thrace, then in the lands along the Danube and in Russia around the Black Sea, and finally in Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, where he suffered.
In Byzantium, he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop; in Kiev, he planted a
Cross on a high place and prophesied a bright Christian future for the Russian people; throughout Thrace, Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, he converted multitudes of people to the Faith and ordained bishops and priests for them. In the city of Patras, he performed many miracles in the name of Christ, and won many over to the Lord. Among the new faithful were the brother and wife of the Proconsul Aegeates. Angered at this, Aegeates subjected St. Andrew to torture and then crucified him.
While the apostle of Christ was still alive on the cross, he gave beneficial instructions to the Christians who had gathered around. The people wanted to take him down from the cross but he refused to let them. Then the apostle prayed to God and an extraordinary light encompassed him. This brilliant illumination lasted for half an hour, and when it disappeared, the apostle gave up his holy soul to God.
Thus, the First-called Apostle, the first of the Twelve Great Apostles to know the Lord and follow Him, finished his earthly course. St. Andrew suffered for his Lord in the year 62.
The Relics of Saint Andrew
His relics were taken to Constantinople; his head was later taken to Rome, and one hand was taken to Moscow.
St. John Chrysostom says: “All is given to the Apostles.” That is, all gifts, all power, all the fullness of grace which God gives to the faithful. We see this in the life of the great apostle, St. Andrew the First-called:
He was an apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11).
- As an evangelist, he carried the good news of the Gospel to the four corners of the earth.
- As a prophet, he prophesied the baptism of the Russian people and the greatness of Kiev as a city and a Christian center.
- As a pastor, he established and organized many churches.
- As a teacher, he tirelessly taught people right up to and during his crucifixion, when he taught from the cross until his last breath.
- In addition to this, he was a martyr, which is also according to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and is not given to everyone.
And so we see in this apostle, as in the others, the fullness of the grace of the Spirit of God. And every great work that a follower of Christ performs must be ascribed to that grace. St. Frumentius testifies this to us. When he returned from Alexandria to Abyssinia as a consecrated bishop, he began to perform the greatest miracles, thus converting great masses of people to the Faith. Then the amazed king asked him: “So many years have you lived among us and never have we seen you perform such miracles. How is it that you do so now?” To this, the Blessed Frumentius replied to the emperor: “This is not my work, but the work of the grace of the priesthood.” The saint then explained to the king how he had forsaken parents and marriage and the whole world for the sake of Christ, and how he had, by the laying on of hands by St. Athanasius, received the grace of the priesthood: miracle-working grace.
Prologue of Ochrid