Saint Brigid Religious Education
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St. Andrew

Feast day: November 29

Andrew was an apostle and martyr, brother of Simon Peter. He was a fisherman by trade, his home was at Capernaum. He was a disciple of John the Baptist before becoming an apostle of Christ. In all the Gospel lists of apostles his name is among the first four; he is specially mentioned for his share in the feeding of the 5, 000 and in the episode of the Greeks who wished to meet Jesus (cf. John 12: 20–2).

It is not certain where he preached the Gospel, where he died or where he was buried. The most ancient written tradition links him with Greece: Scythia and Epirus both claimed him as their apostle, while Patras in Achaia claimed to be the place where he was crucified and preached to the people for two days before he died. An early medieval forgery attributed to him the founding of the Church of Constantinople. This claim was strengthened by the translation of his supposed relics from Patras; it was intended to provide some counterweight to the more solid claim of Rome to possess the relics of Peter and Paul.

There was also a notable cult in the West. His feast was universal from the 6th century: churches were dedicated to him from early times in Italy and France, as well as Anglo-Saxon England, where Rochester was the earliest of 637 medieval dedications. Ancient legends include that of a journey to Ethiopia, preserved in the Old English poem Andreas (once attributed to Cynewulf) and, even more influential, that of a translation of his relics from Patras to Scotland by Rule in the 8th century. He stopped at a place in Fife now called St. Andrews and built a church there, which became a centre for evangelization and eventually pilgrimage. This story, which survives in several irreconcilable forms, some of which posit angelic intervention, is the reason for the choice of Andrew as patron of Scotland.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1204, the Crusaders took his body to Amalfi. The despot Thomas Palaeologus gave his head to the pope in 1461. It was one of the most treasured possessions of St. Peter's until it was returned to Constantinople by Pope Paul VI.

In art Andrew is depicted with cross (X), commonly called ‘St. Andrew's Cross’, which represents Scotland on the Union Jack, was associated with him from the 10th century and became common in the 14th. His other attribute is a fishing-net. Cycles of paintings are based on his fictitious Acts, which form the basis of the Breviary Office. Andrew is also patron of Russia.

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