Today, November 30, is the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle. St. Andrew is the patron saint of the church of the town where I live. This is fitting, as the town was founded by a Scotsman and St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. Here are two photographs of the statue of St. Andrew outside of the local church:
The nave of the church is fittingly shaped like a ship (“nave” means “ship”); St. Andrew was a fisherman and is a patron saint of fishermen. Here’s a close up of the coat-of-arms beneath the statue:
Note the two fish. I suspect that’s a reference to the miracle of the loaves and fishes. It was St. Andrew who pointed out to Our Lord, “There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many?” (Gospel of St. John 6:9). The saltire (X-shaped) cross represents the type of cross on which St. Andrew was martyred.
Consider a few facts about St. Andrew:
1.) St. Andrew was the first-called (Protoklutos) of the Apostles, per the Gospel of St. John 1:40. Fittingly, the feast day of St. Andrew anchors the beginning of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to this feast. The first-called of the apostles — the beginning of the institutional Church — heralds the advent of the Lord and the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year.
2.) The name “Andrew” is from the Greek word andreios, which means, “manly, brave.” The apostolic life is first and foremost a call to manliness.
3.) St. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter and called him to follow Jesus. As such, Andrew is the “Apostle to the Prince of the Apostles.” That helps explain why devotion to St. Andrew runs so deep in Rome. Fr. Reggie Foster pointed out this devotion to his students in Rome during the summer of 2007. Consider:
a.) In the Roman Rite of the Mass, St. Andrew is one of the select saints named in the Libera Nos prayer that follows the Lord’s Prayer (emphasis added):
Líbera nos, quæsumus Dómine, ab ómnibus malis, prætéritis, præséntibus et futúris: et intercedénte beáta et gloriósa semper Vírgine Dei Genitríce María, cum beátis Apóstolis tuis Petro et Páulo, atque Andréa, et ómnibus Sanctis, da propítius pacem in diébus nostris: ut, ope misericórdiæ tuæ adiúti, et a peccáto simus semper líberi et ab omni perturbatióne secúri. Per eúndem Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus. Per ómnia sæcula sæculórum.
Here’s the translation from the Baronius Press Missal:
“Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the Saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of Thy mercy we may be always free from sin, and secure from all disturbance.”
b.) Though in the Gospels St. Andrew is not a member of Our Lord’s innermost circle of three Apostles (Sts. Peter, James, and John), through his relation to St. Peter he does seem to be closer than the remaining Apostles. In the Roman Rite, the Communicantes prayer in the Roman Canon and the Litany of the Saints both name St. Andrew immediately after Sts. Peter and Paul and before Sts. James and John. The liturgy of Rome therefore seems to privilege the brother of Peter over other Apostles who were closer to Our Lord.
c.) There are several Roman churches dedicated to St. Andrew, including my favorite Roman church, the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle (http://romanchurches.wikia.com/wiki/Sant’Andrea_della_Valle). Here are two images from the basilica. The first one shows a painting of the passio of St. Andrew that appears above the basilica’s main altar:
The following image shows a painting of the translation of the relic of St. Andrew’s head from Patras (where St. Andrew was martyred) to Rome, where it was received by Pope Pius II.
For an article about the translation of this relic, go to the New Liturgical Movement blog (http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2016/11/the-relics-of-st-andrew.html#.WD9fhWfruM8). I still remember Reggie telling us about this event.
4.) Last and least, I have a personal devotion to St. Andrew, who seems to follow me:
a.) St. Peter is one of my patron saints, so it figures that St. Andrew would take an interest in me.
b.) I have some distant Scottish ancestry. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and, according to legend, evangelized Scotland.
c.) In 2002, I visited the Cathedral of Amalfi, which houses relics of St. Andrew. See this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YOuSM5-dWs), which shows a procession of St. Andrew’s relics in Amalfi.
d.) One day, I found a prayer card of St. Andrew in a pew in my home parish in Illinois. He’s not the most popular saint, so it was a providential act.