Who Is St. Andrew?
According to the Catholic Church, brother to the man who would become their leader, Andrew was the first of Jesus’s Apostles. Andrew was born in Bethsaida in Galilee, the same area in which St. John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, first preached that Jesus was the Messiah. Andrew was so impressed that he sought out Jesus for further instruction.
Bethsaida (first century a.d.–a.d. 69)
Patron: fishermen, Scotland, Greece, Constantinople
Feast day: November 30
Inspired, uplifted, and overjoyed, Andrew recruited his brother (Simon, whom Jesus renamed Peter), who also became a disciple.
The Sea of Galilee and fishing played an important role in the brothers’ lives. Fishing was their livelihood, and the Lord used the sea and fishing many times as points of reference. The Lord used their fishing boat as a pulpit to preach to those gathered along the shore, right before the miracle of the loaves. Andrew and Peter witnessed Jesus walking on the water from their boat.
Finally, after a bad night of fishing, Jesus encouraged them to go out once again in their fishing boat, and the brothers came back with their boat overflowing with fish. When they returned, the Lord bid them to become “fishers of men” and to follow him (Matthew 4:18–19).
St. Andrew is believed to have taken the message of the Gospel to Greece and even as far as Constantinople. He was martyred by crucifixion, tied to the cross in the form of an X. To this day, the 24th letter of the alphabet is a symbol of St. Andrew. The Scottish flag is blue with a white X representing its patron.
During the Middle Ages, the relics of St. Andrew were transferred to the Republic of Amalfi on the southwest coast of Italy, where the Basilica of St. Andrew still houses some of his remains; other relics are in Rome. In a gesture of ecumenism, Pope John Paul II returned the relic of St. Andrew’s head to the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. Customarily, a 30-day Christmas novena commences on his feast day and continues to the feast of Christmas.