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Greek CommunityGreek ChurchNovember 30 - Saint Andrew the Apostle, the First-Called (ο Πρωτόκλητος)

November 30 – Saint Andrew the Apostle, the First-Called (ο Πρωτόκλητος)

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The 30th of the month, Memory of the Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Apostle ANDREW the FIRST-CALLED


The glorious Apostle of Christ, Andrew, was the brother of the holy Apostle Peter, and came from the village of Bethsaida on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesaret.  Unlike Simon Peter, who married, Andrew chose to remain in his virginity, and lived in Simon Peter’s house.  The two brothers earned their living as fishermen and kept all the ordinances of the law blamelessly.  When Saint John the Baptist went about Judaea and the Jordan valley proclaiming his message of repentance, Andrew left everything that held him in the world, and hastened to join him as a disciple.  Some days after he had baptized Jesus, John the Baptist was conversing with Andrew and his other disciple John the Theologian, when the Lord passed by John the Baptist looked at Him and said to his disciples: Behold, the Lamb of God! (John 1:35).  At this word of their master, which indicated to them the One of whom God had appointed him the Forerunner, Andrew and John followed Jesus to find out more about Him.  Jesus turned towards them and said: What do you seek?‘Rabbi,’ they answered respectfully, ‘where are you staying?’Come and see, said Jesus.  So they accompanied him to the place where he was living like a stranger and sojourner, and plied Him with questions for the rest of the day.  They did not realize then that He was the Saviour and the Son of God, nor was it even in their minds to become his disciples, yet they felt drawn to Him more than they could say. 


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From their conversation with Him, Andrew was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, whom his people had awaited for so many centuries.  Unable to contain his joy, he hurried home and told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah (John 1:41), and then he brought him to Jesus.  Being the first to recognize Christ and to announce Him to Peter – who would become the leader of the Apostolic choir – Saint Andrew is given the title of First-called.


From then on, Andrew followed the Saviour wherever he went in the towns and villages, deserts and mountains, that he might drink deep of the river of living water of His words.  At Andrew’s intercession, the Lord multiplied the loaves to provide earthly food for the Five Thousand (John 6).  It was to Andrew that the Apostle Philip turned when some Greeks asked to see Jesus.  Andrew had an especial love for Philip who, like him, came from Bethsaida, and Philip knew that Andrew’s communication with the Master was on a more familiar footing than his own (John  12:20).  The witnesses of the most sublime revelations of the divinity of the Lord Jesus were Peter, James, and John, the first in the rank of the Apostolic choir, followed by Saint Andrew – not that he exercised authority over the rest of disciples, but he had a kind of precedence.


Saint Andrew witnessed all that came to pass in Jerusalem at the time of the Life-giving Passion of the Lord, and was present with the others at the appearances of the Saviour after his Resurrection.  He received the fullness of the Grace of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and he was allotted to preach the Gospel around the Black Sea coast (in Bithynia and Thrace), and in Greece.  Faithful to the exhortation of the Lord, he took with him no purse, nor bag, nor staff (Matt. 10:10) and went out into the highways to proclaim the good news of Salvation.  He faced perils and tribulations without number, illnesses, dangers from robbers, mistreatment from Jews and pagans, and every kind of privation; but the Holy Spirit accompanied him wherever he went, spoke by his mouth, worked miracles and healings, gave him patience and joy in his trials.  And this indwelling power of God drew multitudes to the faith, whose minds were illumined by his preaching.  He brought souls to second birth through the laver of holy Baptism; he ordained priests and consecrated bishops at their head, built churches and organized the praise of God within them.


He went first to Amisus in Pontus on the southern shore of the Black Sea, where he converted a large number of Jews, and healed all kinds of disease by the power of God.  Proceeding along the coast to Trebizond, he preached the word as far as the region of Lazica in the Caucasus before returning to Jerusalem for Easter.  From there he set out for Ephesus with Saint John the Theologian and spent some time evangelizing the western parts of Asia Minor.  Making his way up the coast to the Propontis, he spread the word in the cities of Nicaea, Nicomedia, Chalcedon, Heraclea Pontica and Amastris.  Constantly challenged by fanatical supporters of pagan cults and by sophists with beguiling arguments, Saint Andrew covered both parties with confusion by his wisdom and miracles.  On reaching Sinope, he delivered the Apostle Matthias from chains by his prayer, and was set upon by the infuriated pagans.  Covered in blows, he was thrown to the ground, and he even had a finger bitten off.  Like his Master, the Lamb of God, who came on earth to suffer and to take away the sins of the world, Andrew sought neither to flee nor to defend himself, but bore everything with patience.  Seeing his steadfastness, forbearance, and the many miracles that he did, the people of Sinope repented, asked his forgiveness and received holy Baptism.


After he had established a bishop and priests at Sinope, Andrew returned to the cities of the Propontis which he had already evangelized, in order to confirm them in the faith.  Going East again, he refuted the pagan sophists in the cities of Neocaesarea and Samosata, and then made his way once more to Jerusalem for the council, at which the Apostles decided how pagans were to be received into the Church (Acts 15).


After the feast of Easter, Andrew went with Matthias and Thaddeus as far as the borders of Mesopotamia, where he left them in order to preach the Good News in the barbarous lands to the north of the Black Sea (now the Crimea and Southern Ukraine).  After that he returned to the West, illumined the hearts of the people of the small town of Byzantium in Thrace by his preaching, and founded a Church dedicated to the Mother of God.  Leaving Stachys, one of the Seventy (31 Oct.), as bishop there, the indefatigable Apostle journeyed on through Thrace, Macedonia and Thessaly and as far as the city of Patras in the Peloponnese.


At Patras Andrew healed Maximilla, the Proconsul’s wife, of an incurable illness, and so brought her to the faith.  The other inhabitants of Patras also shared in the blessings he brought with him, and there was soon a large community of Christians in the city.  During the absence of the Proconsul Aegeates, Saint Andrew converted his brother and deputy, Stratocles.  On his return, Aegeates was enraged to observe the gains made by the Christians even in his own household, and he had the Apostle arrested.  In prison Andrew continued preaching, and he ordained Stratocles as Bishop of Patras.  Some days later the Apostle was summarily condemned to be crucified head downwards.  How joyful he was to imitate Christ even in the way he was to die for Him! After restraining the friends who wanted to procure his freedom, Andrew blessed his faithful for the last time and gave up his soul to God.  Aegeates died a violent death soon after,  as punishment for his iniquity, and his wealth was distributed to the poor by Stratocles, who built the cathedral church over the place of the Apostle’s martyrdom.


Many years later, on 3 March 357, the precious relics of the Apostle were brought from Patras to Constantinople by Saint Artemius (20 Oct.) at the command of the Emperor Constantius, the son of Saint Constantine.  They were placed with those of Saint Luke and Saint Thaddeus in the new Church of the Holy Apostles.  Five hundred years later, they came back to Patras, sent by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian (867-86).  In 1460, on the eve of the Turkish invasion of the Peloponnese, Thomas Palaeologus, the Despot of Morea, presented them to Pius II, Pope of Rome.  The skull of the Apostle was finally returned to Patras on 26 September 1964, to the great joy of the faithful.


According to a Slav tradition, Saint Andrew’s mission extended as far as Russia, which would give the Russian Church a distant apostolic origin identical to that of Constantinople (Byzantium).  At all events, the Russian Church certainly belongs to the branch that goes back to Saint Andrew, since after its conversion Russia depended for many centuries on the Patriarchate of Constantinople.


In the Western tradition, Saint Andrew is especially venerated as the patron of Scotland.  Saint Rule, a native of Patras, is said to have brought a part of the precious relics of the Apostle to Scotland in obedience to a vision.  He founded a church in Fife at the place now called St Andrews, which became a centre of evangelization and pilgrimage.  In the Middle Ages, there were more than eight hundred churches in Scotland dedicated to the First-called of the Apostles.


-From The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Volume 2: November, December by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra, translated from the French by Christopher Hookway, Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady Ormylia (Chalkidike), 1999.




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