Today's feast traditionally marks the end of the Church year and
the beginning of Advent.
Because Andrew was the first apostle to follow Jesus, he is called "Protokletos" or “the first called”.
A thoughtful meditation on St Andrew was offered by Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI in his general audience on June 14, 2006.
Because he had great faith and shared the hope of Israel for the coming of a messiah, he was drawn to and then became a disciple of St John the Baptist.
"...one day he heard John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as: "the Lamb of God" (Jn 1:36); so he was stirred, and with another unnamed disciple followed Jesus, the one whom John had called "the Lamb of God". The Evangelist says that "they saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day..." (Jn 1:37-39).
Apostles Andrew and Philip, served as Jesus' interpreters and mediators to the inquisitive Greek and pagan cultures.
St Andrew's Mission
Below, for example, he writes:
Some very ancient traditions not only see Andrew, who communicated these words to the Greeks, as the interpreter of some Greeks at the meeting with Jesus recalled here, but consider him the Apostle to the Greeks in the years subsequent to Pentecost. They enable us to know that for the rest of his life he was the preacher and interpreter of Jesus for the Greek world.
Peter, his brother, traveled from Jerusalem through Antioch and reached Rome to exercise his universal mission; Andrew, instead, was the Apostle of the Greek world. So it is that in life and in death they appear as true brothers — a brotherhood that is symbolically expressed in the special reciprocal relations of the See of Rome and of Constantinople, which are truly Sister Churches.
It was Andrew’s desire to perfectly configure himself to Christ, however, like his brother Peter, he humbly asked to be nailed to an X-shaped cross now referred to as "St Andrew's Cross". Refer to this blog bottom for relic transfers. There is a 6th century prayer entitled the Passion of Andrew which tradition teaches is based on his final words before his crucifixion in Patras, (southern) Greece:
"Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.
"Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the One who was hung upon you.... O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord's limbs!... Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross; yes, hail indeed!".
The Patrimony of St Andrew
Benedict shares two lessons learned from St Andrew:
1. To follow Jesus with promptness (cf. Mt 4:20; Mk 1:18).
2. To speak enthusiastically about him to those we meet, and especially, to cultivate a relationship of true familiarity with him, acutely aware that in him alone can we find the ultimate meaning of our life and death.
Andrew brought Peter, his brother, to Jesus. The fish reveal that he transformed his occupation as ﬁsherman to the larger calling as ﬁsher of men. He is often portrayed as a man bound to a cross; man preaching from a cross; preacher holding some fish.
Like St John the Baptist, Andrew is traditionally depicted with wild or unruly hair. The hair length and color varies and his beard might be forked. Some scholars attribute this “individualized” appearance to a certain scene where Jesus answers St Andrew’s question about the fulfillment of future horrific events. In his reply Jesus tells Andrew “But there shall not an hair of your head perish” (Luke 21:18). Symbolically, then, Andrew’s plentiful hair is emphasized:
Θρὶξ, (an hair) A proverbial expression.—οὐ μὴ ἀπόληται, (shall not perish) namely, without the special providence of God,—without its reward,—before its time. Most of the apostles, or at least some of them, lived beyond the destruction of Jerusalem.
From Bengel's Gnomen: Luke 21:18.
Symbols: Fish; Saint Andrew's cross; Cross saltire (x-shaped); V or Y shaped cross; two fishes; tall cross and book; vertical spear; primitive fish hook; fisherman's net.
Local Christians buried him St Andrew in Patras, but most of his bones were later moved to Constantinople. In 1206 Italian Crusaders looted the church in Constantinople and carried St. Andrew’s relics to Amalfi, Italy, where they remain to this day.
Legend claims that in the fourth century a Greek monk, St. Regulus, or Rule, arrived in Scotland with a few of St. Andrew’s bones. He built a chapel for the relics; a town sprang up around the chapel and took the name St. Andrews. The apostle became the patron saint of Scotland, and his shrine was a destination for pilgrims until 1559 when Protestant extremists burned the saint’s relics.
When the Catholic hierarchy was restored in Scotland in 1878, the following year the archbishop of Amalfi presented Archbishop John Strain of Edinburgh with a large piece of St. Andrew’s shoulder bone. In 1969 Paul VI presented Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray with another relic of St. Andrew. The two relics are kept in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, in a chapel known as Scotland’s National Shrine of St. Andrew.