Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
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.