On St. Andrew, the “First Apostle”

Caravaggio: The calling of Sts Peter and Andrew

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew,” by Caravaggio

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Here’s a hint:  The church I attend has “St. Andrew” in its title, but that can present a problem.

For example, the Feast Day for St. Andrew is November 30, but this year November 30 is also the First Sunday of Advent.  (See St Andrew, Apostle and First Sunday of Advent .)   So there’s always a question of which readings to use, if for example you’re doing the bulletins for your church.  This year “the rules” say that we’ll be doing the readings for the First Sunday of Advent on November 30, and transfer the readings for St. Andrew’s Feast Day to December 7, thus superseding the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent.  (Hey, rules are rules…)

According to the National Catholic Register, “St. Andrew was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, but many people know little about him.”  He was St. Peter’s brother, and so would have been known as Andrew bar-Jonah (“son of Jonah”).   He’s regularly mentioned after Peter, which suggests Andrew was the younger brother.  Like Peter and their partners James and John, Andrew was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.   The article noted the name Andrew is Greek, and that that reflected the “mixed Jewish-Gentile environment of Galilee” at the time of Jesus. (Jonah gave his older son Simon an Aramaic name, but his younger son Andrew a Greek name.) See www.ncregister.com/blog/st.-andrew-the-apostle-11-things-to-know and share.

The article continued that Andrew was “one of the four disciples closest to Jesus, but he seems to have been the least close of the four.” (E.A.)   That’s ironic because Andrew was one of the first followers of Jesus; “In fact, he discovered Jesus before his brother Peter did.”  (He was one of the two initial disciples of John the Baptist who encountered Jesus at the beginning of John’s Gospel.”)   And so – because he followed Jesus before St. Peter and the others – he is called the Protoklete or ‘First Called’ apostle.”  Then there’s the matter of how he died:

A later tradition … tells of Andrew’s death at Patras [in Greece], where he too suffered the torture of crucifixion.   At that supreme moment, however, like his brother Peter, he asked to be nailed to a cross different from the Cross of Jesus.   In his case it was a diagonal or X-shaped cross, which has thus come to be known as “St Andrew’s cross.”

The x-shaped cross – also known as a saltire – is a “heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross, like the shape of the letter X in Roman type.   Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross.”  See Saltire – Wikipedia, which added that the saltire is featured in the national flags of Scotland and other countries, as well as the Battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia and today’s 10th Mountain Division in the U.S. Army.


(“The 10th Mountain Division[‘s] bayonets ‘in saltire’ [for] the Roman numeral X (10).”)

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See also Andrew the Apostle – Wikipedia, which added this:

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ)…   [He was] bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

(Emphasis added.)  St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, as well as several other countries and cities including BarbadosRomaniaRussiaScotland and the Ukraine, as well as cities like Patras in Greece.   He was also the patron saint of Prussia and of the Order of the Golden Fleece.   He is considered the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and … patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

So there you have it.  St. Andrew was the first Apostle and yet now is one of the least-known of the Apostles.  (There’s probably some kind of lesson there.)   On that note see John 1:35-42:

The next day John [the Baptist] was … with two of his disciples, when he saw Jesus walking by.  “There is the Lamb of God!” he said.  The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus.  Jesus turned, saw them following him, and asked, “What are you looking for?”  They answered, “Where do you live, Rabbi?”  (This word means “Teacher.”)   “Come and see,” he answered.  (It was then about four o’clock in the afternoon.)  So they went with him and saw where he lived, and spent the rest of that day with him.  One of them was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  At once he found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah.”  (This word means “Christ.”)   Then he took Simon to Jesus.  [E.A.]

So you might say Andrew was the Catholic Church’s sine qua non;  “without which there is none.”

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 St. Andrew and his “x-shaped cross” or saltire

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The upper image is courtesy of Caravaggio: The calling of Sts Peter and Andrew – Art, which added:

A beardless Jesus gestures Peter (who was still called Simon at the time) and his brother Andrew to follow him:  “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”  According to the gospel Peter and Andrew were out fishing on the lake when they were called.  Caravaggio gives his own interpretation. Because of his prominence, the man on the left is thought to be Peter.  It is only since 2006 that this painting is attributed to Caravaggio…    One of the details that shows this work must be the original is a carving in the ground layer under Peter’s ear.  Caravaggio often used such incissions, and they are very uncommon in copies.

See also, The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew – Wikipedia.

Re: “rules are rules.”  See rule – Macmillan English Dictionaries, noting the phrase “used for telling someone that they have to obey a rule, even if they do not want to.”

The lower image is courtesy of www.ncregister.com/blog/st.-andrew-the-apostle-11-things-to-know and share, which included the full text of St. Andrew’s words before he died, thus showing “a very profound Christian spirituality.  [He] does not view the Cross as an instrument of torture but rather as the incomparable means for perfect configuration to the Redeemer, to the grain of wheat that fell into the earth.   Here we have a very important lesson to learn: Our own crosses acquire value if we consider them and accept them as a part of the Cross of Christ…”   See also Andrew the Apostle – Wikipedia.

Re: “sine qua non.”   See Sine qua non – Wikipedia, explaining that the Latin phrase “refers to an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient.  It was originally a Latin legal term for ‘[a condition] without which it could not be,’ or ‘but for..’ or ‘without which [there is] nothing.'”  See also sine qua non – The Free Dictionary, defining the term as an “essential element or condition: ‘The perfect cake is the sine qua non of the carefully planned modern wedding’ (J.M. Hilary).”

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