Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Patron Saint’s Day, Your Royal Highnesses!

Saint Andrew (Greek: 'Ανδρέας, Andreas) (early first century - mid to late first century AD), called in the Orthodox tradition Protocletos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the younger brother of Saint Peter. The New Testament records that St Andrew was a son of Jonah, or John, (Matthew 16:17; John 1:42). He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them "fishers of men" (Greek: ἁλιείς ἀνθρώπων, halieis anthropon). At the beginning of Jesus' public life they occupied the same house at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-29).

The Gospel of John teaches that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus (John 1:35-40). Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother (John 1:41). Thenceforth the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11; Matthew 4:19-20; Mark 1:17-18).

In the gospel Andrew 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), but in Acts there is only a bare mention of him (1:13).

Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kiev. Hence he became a patron saint of Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea. Though early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Christ was crucified, a tradition grew up that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross) and commonly known as "Saint Andrew's Cross"; this was performed at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Christ was crucified. "The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, does not seem to have been standardized before the later Middle Ages," Judith Calvert concluded after re-examining the materials studied by Louis Réau.

Saint Andrew is the patron of Patras. According to tradition his relics were moved from Patras to Constantinople, and thence to St Andrews (see below). Local legends say that the relics were sold to the Romans. The head of the saint, considered one of the treasures of St Peter's Basilica, was given by the Byzantine despot Thomas Palaeologus to Pope Pius II in 1461. In recent years, by decision of Pope Paul VI in 1964, the relics that were kept in the Vatican City, were sent back to Patras. The relics, which consist of the small finger, part of the top of the cranium of Saint Andrew and small parts of the cross, have since that time been kept in the Church of St Andrew at Patras in a special shrine, and are revered in a special ceremony every November 30 (December 13 O.S.).

St Andrew is the patron saint of the Royal House of Karadjordjevic.

Happy Patron Saint’s Day, Your Royal Highnesses!


1 comment:

Stelios Alex. Rigopoulos said...

I do not know when the House of Karadjordjevic first chose St. Andrew as their Patron (Slava), but it is an historical fact that King Petar I was the first Orthodox Monarch to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans on 29 May, 1453. It is 100 years ago today, since King Petar I visited Patriarch Joachim III, known as the "Splendid" in 1908, on the Feast of St. Andrew, which is also the Patronal Feast of the Patriarchate. Patriarch Joachim, the "Splendid", deeply moved at the historic presence of the Serb King, removed the emblem of the double-headed eagle from his vestments and placed it on the breast of King Petar, calling him the First Son of the Orthodox Church. Indeed the great devotion of the House of Karadjordjevic towards the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church persists today. Yesterday, on the eve of his "Slava", HRH Aleksandar II, Princess Katarina, Prince Vladimir and Princess Birgitte visited the ailing Patriarch Pavle in the Military Hospital in Belgrade to receive his blessing. I have met Their Royal Highnesses in the Serbian Church in London. May God grant them many years of excellent health and happiness and to be crowned Sovereigns of the Kingdom of Serbia, of all the Serbs!