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St. Andrew, Apostle

Sant'Andrea St. Andrew  (© Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana)

The first one to be called by Jesus

“We have found the Messiah”, expresses the great joy of the apostle Andrew. Those are the words we find in John’s Gospel when Andrew rushes to meet his brother Simon Peter to tell him what he has discovered and to share his joy at being the first one called by Jesus. A fisherman from Bethsaida of Galilee and a disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew recognizes the “Lamb of God” in the son of Joseph the carpenter. The disciple recalled the time of this encounter at the Jordan river that would mark his life forever, “it was about four in the afternoon”.

He immediately left his nets and followed Him

“Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus responded immediately to this question of Andrew and the other disciple, saying, “Come, and you will see”. That clear invitation foreshadowed the following, more explicit call Jesus made on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to Simon, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”. The two disciples were still taken aback, but did not have any hesitation following Jesus, as the evangelist Matthew writes, “At once they left their nets and followed him”.

From that first exchange with each other, a journey of faith began in following Jesus in his daily ministry. Andrew is one of the twelve apostles, whom the Son of God chose as one of his closest friends. He must have been amazed when he witnessed the multiplication of the loaves of bread and fish. Before the miracle, when he turned his gaze on the hungry crowds and saw only five loaves of bread and two fish, he asked “what good are these for so many?”

Patron Saint in Romania, Ukraine and Russia

The faith of Andrew grew day by day, when at one point Jesus invited him, Peter, James, and John, to go up to the Mount of Olives where he answered their questions about the signs of the last days. Andrew is known to have brought a group of Greeks to Jesus who wanted to meet him, but the Gospels do not reveal other specific news about him. The Acts of the Apostles notes that he went to Jerusalem together with his other companions after the Ascension. The rest of the information on the life of the saint is found in non-canonical and apocryphal texts. “You will be a column of light in my kingdom”, Jesus is quoted as saying to Andrew, according to an ancient Coptic text. Christian writers of the first centuries say the apostle Andrew evangelized Asia Minor, the regions along the Black Sea, until he reached the Volga. Today he is honored as a patron saint in Romania, Ukraine and Russia.

Martyrdom on a Diagonal Cross

The preaching of the Good News continued tirelessly throughout Achaea and in Patras by around the year 60 AD. He was martyred there and crucified on a diagonal cross which he requested as a way to evoke the Greek initial used for the name of Christ. According to the Golden Legend, before giving his last breath, he was to have pronounced these words: “Cross, sanctified by the body of Christ. Good Cross, long desired always, I loved you and wished to embrace you. Welcome me and bring me to my master".