Saint Andrew




According to Christian tradition, Andrew was born at Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). Since he was a Jew, Andreas was almost certainly not his given name, but no Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. He had been a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:37-40) and was one of the first to follow Jesus. He lived at Capernaum (Mark 1:29). In the gospels he is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus (Mark 13:3; John 6:8, 12:22); in Acts there is only a bare mention of him (1:13).

The Kievan hill where St Andrew is said to have erected the cross is commemorated by the cathedral dedicated in his name.
The Kievan hill where St Andrew is said to have erected the cross is commemorated by the cathedral dedicated in his name.
Crucifixion of St. Andrew
Crucifixion of St. Andrew

Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga. Hence he became a patron saint of Romania and Russia. Traditionally, he was the first bishop of Byzantium, a position which would later become Patriarch of Constantinople.

He is said to have suffered crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea, on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross) and commonly known as "St Andrew's cross". St Andrew is the patron of Patras. According to tradition his relics were removed from Patras to Constantinople, and thence to St Andrews (see below). Local legends say that the relics were sold to the Romans by the local priests in exchange of the Romans constructing a water reservoir for the city. In recent years, the relics were kept in the Vatican City, but were sent back to Patras by decision of the Pope Paul VI in 1964. The relics, which consist of the small finger and part of the top of the cranium of St Andrew, are since kept in the Church of St Andrew at Patras in a special tomb, and are reverenced in a special ceremony every November 30.

The monumental church of St. Andreas at Patras, where the saint's relics are kept, said to be erected over the place of his martyrdom.
The monumental church of St. Andreas at Patras, where the saint's relics are kept, said to be erected over the place of his martyrdom.

The apocryphal Acts of Andrew, mentioned by Eusebius, Epiphanius and others, is among a disparate group Acts of Apostles that were traditionally attributed to Leucius Charinus. "These Acts may be the latest of the five leading apostolic romances. They belong to the third century: ca. A.D. 260," was the opinion of C.R. James, who edited them in 1924. The Acts, as well as a Gospel of St Andrew, appear among rejected books in the Decretum Gelasianum connected with the name of Pope Gelasius I. The Acts of Andrew was edited and published by Constantin von Tischendorf in the Acta Apostolorum apocrypha (Leipzig, 1821), putting it for the first time into the hands of a critical professional readership. Another version of the Andrew legend is found in the Passio Andreae, published by Max Bonnet (Supplementum II Codicis apocryphi, Paris, 1895).

Andrew is represented in art as an old man with long white hair and a beard, holding the Gospel in his right hand, and leaning on his characteristic saltire cross. Relics: St Andrew Basilica - Patras (Greece), Sant'Andrea Dome - Amalfi (Italy), St Mary Cathedral - Edinburgh (National Shrine to St Andrew Scotland)[2]and St Andrew & St Albert church - Warsaw (Poland)

Scottish legends

About the middle of the 10th century, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. Concerning this there are several legends which state that the relics of Andrew were brought under supernatural guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern St Andrews stands (Pictish, Muckross; Gaelic, Cill Rìmhinn).

The Saltire (or 'St Andrew's Cross') is the national flag of Scotland.
The Saltire (or "St Andrew's Cross") is the national flag of Scotland.
St. Andreas praying
St. Andreas praying

The oldest surviving accounts are two: one among the manuscripts collected by Colbert and willed to the King, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, the other in the Harleian Mss in the British Library, London. They state that the relics of Andrew were brought by one Regulus to the Pictish king Óengus mac Fegusa (729–761). The only historical Regulus (Riagail or Rule) — the name is preserved by the tower of St Rule — was an Irish monk expelled from Ireland with St Columba; his date, however, is c. 573–600. There are good reasons for supposing that the relics were originally in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. 732), and founded a see, not, according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews. The connection with Regulus is, therefore, due in all probability to the desire to date the foundation of the church at St Andrews as early as possible.

Another legend says that in the late 8th century, during a joint battle with the English, King Ungus (either the Óengus mac Fergusa mentioned previously or another king of the same name (820–834)) saw a cloud shaped like a saltire, and declared Andrew was watching over them, and if they won by his grace, then he would be their patron saint. However, there is evidence Andrew was venerated in Scotland before this.

A third theory as to Andrew's connection with Scotland is that, following the Synod of Whitby, the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been "outranked" by Peter. They therefore decided that the patron of the Celtic Church would now be Peter's older brother. While a satisfying piece of folklore, there is no more evidence for this than any other theory.

The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, which declared Scottish independence from England, cites Scotland's conversion to Christianity by St Andrew, "the first to be an Apostle", as evidence of Scotland being held in especially high regard by God.

Numerous parish churches in the Church of Scotland and congregations of other Christian churches in Scotland are named after St Andrew.

The Italian Tradition

St. Jerome wrote that the relics of St. Andrew were taken from Patras to Constantinople by order of the Roman emperor Constantius II in 357. In 1208, the relics were taken to Amalfi, Italy, by Pietro, cardinal of Capua, a native of Amalfi. In the 15th century, the head of St. Andrew was brought to Rome, where it became enshrined in one of the four central piers of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. In September 1964, as a gesture of good will toward the Greek Orthodox Church, Pope Paul VI returned the head to the church in Patras. The Amalfi cathedral, dedicated to St Andrew (as is the town itself), contains a tomb in its crypt that it maintains still contains the rest of the relics of the apostle.

Saint Andrew in Romanian tradition

Romanians believe that Saint Andrew (named Sfântul Apostol Andrei) was the first who preached christianity in the Scythia Minor, modern Dobrogea, to the native people of the Dacians (ancestors of Romanians). It is the official standpoint of the Romanian Orthodox Church[1]. Hippolyte of Antioch (died ~AD 250) in his On apostles[1], Origen in the third book of his Commentaries on the Genesis (AD 254), Eusebius of Caesarea in his Church History (AD 340), and other different sources, like the Usaard's Martyrdom written between 845-865[2], Jacobus de Voragine in Golden Legend (~1260)[3], mention that Saint Andrew preached in Scythia Minor. There are toponyms and numerous very old traditions (like carols) related to Saint Andrew, many of them having probably a pre-christian substratum. There exists a cave where it is supposed he preached. The mysterious tradition of baptism which happens in the village of Copuzu is also linked by some etnologs whith the christianization campaign made by the Apostle.

Saint Andrew and the Parish of Luqa (Malta)

The first reference that we come across regarding the first small Chapel dedicated to Saint Andrew dates back to 1497. According the Pastoral Visit of Mgr. Pietro Dusina, we know that this Capel consisted of 3 altars, one of them dedicated to Saint Andrew. The titular painting showing the B.V. Mary with Saints Andrew and Paul was made by the Maltese artist Filippo Dingli.

Icon of Apostol Andrey Pervozvannyj - the patron saint of Russia
Icon of Apostol Andrey Pervozvannyj - the patron saint of Russia

In the old days, many fishermen lived in the village of Luqa, and this may be the main reason behind choosing Saint Andrew as patron saint of Luqa. One must also add that Luqa became officially a Parish on the 15th of May, 1634, during the reign of Pope Urbanus VIII. The first Parish Priest of the newly established parish was Rev. Wistin Cassia S.Th.D.

In 1634, a new Parish Church was built under the supercision of Rev. Gulio Muscat, and it took a lot of years for completion. Many people donated money to finance this new project. One must not forget that in these times, Luqa was a poor village and so this new Church was a great financial burden for all the people. After lots of work, the Church was completed and consecrated.

On the 9th of April, 1942, the Parish Church was hit during an air-raid and was damaged. After the war has ended, the Church was rebuilt and consecrated by the Archbishop of Malta Mgr. Michael Gonzi on the 26th of September, 1962.

The titular statue of Saint Andrew was sculpted in wood by Giuseppe Scolaro in 1779. This statue underwent several restoration works including that of 1913 performed by the Maltese renowned artist Abraham Gatt.

The titular painting found on the main altar of the Church was painted by Mattia Preti in 1687. This represents the martyrdom of Saint Andrew. Mattia Preti also depicted the painting of the Assumption of the B.V. Mary found in one of the side altars of the Church. Other artists which contributed in this Church were Envin Cremona, Giuseppe Cali, and Paul Camilleri Cauchi.

Amongst the feasts celebrated in Saint Andrew's Church, one could mention the titular feast of Saint Andrew (first Sunday of July, and 30th November), the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (first Sunday of October), the feast of Our Lady of Consolation (last Sunday of August), and the feast of Chorpus Christi (June). An important procession which is organised is that of Good Friday, which consists of 9 artistic statues representing the Passion of Our Lord.


St Andrew is patron of fishermen, fishmongers, and rope-makers


Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece, Russia, Romania, Amalfi and Luqa - Malta. He was also the patron saint of Prussia. The flag of Scotland (and consequently the Union Flag and the arms and Flag of Nova Scotia, and possibly the Confederate flag) feature a saltire in commemoration of the shape of St Andrew's cross. The saltire is also the Flag of Tenerife and the naval jack of Russia.

St Andrew's Day is observed on November 30 in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is the national day of Scotland.

See also

  • National Shrine to St Andrew in Edinburgh Scotland[3]