Wednesday, 30 November 2016

St. Andrew the Apostle & The Golden Legend

An Overview

St. Andrew was the elder brother of St. Peter, and one of the twelve Apostles. Along with Peter, Andrew was born in Bethsaida and was a fisherman by trade. In the Orthodox tradition he is called Πρωτόκλητος or the First-called because he was the first of the Apostles whom Jesus called. The calling took place at the very start of Jesus’ public ministry – the day following His baptism in the Jordan river (Jn 1:35) – not directly, but through the testimony of John the Baptist of whom Andrew was a disciple (Jn 1:35-37). John writes: “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him [Jesus], was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” (1:40) Recognising Jesus as the Messiah, Andrew immediately went and told Peter, bringing him to Jesus, so that they both became Jesus’ disciples.

At a later point in time, Jesus called Andrew (and Peter) a second time to a deeper commitment of discipleship. This is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, where one day, whilst employed in their trade, Jesus called them, saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” and “immediately having left their nets they followed him.” (Mt 4:19-20; see also Lk 5:11; Mk 1:17-18). His third call took place when he was chosen by Jesus as one of the Twelve Apostles.

Other than inferred information concerning the Apostles – such as his presence at the Last Supper, being a witness of the resurrection, his presence at Pentecost etc. – there is little information contained in the New Testament explicitly concerning Andrew. Among such explicit references are when Andrew, along with Peter, James and John ask Jesus when the destruction of the temple will take place (Mk 3:3). Another instance is when preceding the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand Andrew asks, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?” (Jn 6:8-9). It has also been understood that Andrew held a high degree of authority among the apostles – being listed among the twelve second after Peter, in Matthew and Luke, and fourth in Mark and Acts. It is also to Andrew whom Phillip seems to defer when approached by certain Gentiles to have audience with Jesus (Jn 12:20-22).

When the Apostles set out in their evangelisation of the world, Andrew was without exception among them. Tradition has it that he preached in such places as Galatia and Epirus, in Greece; Scythia (in the locale where modern day Ukraine/Russia is located); and Cappadocia and Byzantium, in Turkey. There is also the legend that he went to Scotland. He is considered the founder of the Church in Georgia.

“It is generally agreed that he was crucified by order of the Roman Governor, Aegeas or Aegeates, at Patrae in Achaia [modern day Turkey], and that he was bound, not nailed, to the cross, in order to prolong his sufferings. The cross on which he suffered is commonly held to have been the decussate cross, now known as St. Andrew's… His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero, on 30 November, A.D. 60; and both the Latin and Greek Churches keep 30 November as his feast.”[1] His relics were transferred to Constantinople in the middle of the fourth century, and were brought to Italy in the thirteenth century.

He is the chief patron of both Russia and Scotland, and is the patron of many other nations and states. His non-geographical patronages include:

·         Fishermen and fishmongers
·         Rope-makers
·         Textile workers
·         Singers
·         Miners
·         Pregnant women and women wishing to fall pregnant
·         Butchers
·         Farm workers
·         Protection against sore throats
·         Protection against convulsions
·         Protection against fever
·         Protection against whooping cough
·         Protection against gout
·         Protection against neck pain
·         Unmarried women
·         For happy marriages

Legenda Aurea on St. Andrew the Apostle

'St. Andrew and His Cross,' Wynkyn de Worde's Print for the English Translation of Legenda Aurea, 1512.

The Medieval bestseller Legenda Aurea (The Golden Legend) is a collection of hagiographies (biographies on saints), written by the Dominican Archbishop of Genoa Jacobus de Voragine around the year 1260, drawing from various historical and legendary sources. Among the hagiographies is an account of the life of St. Andrew. The following are two accounts from this text which are well worth the read.[2] The first concerns the martyrdom of Andrew, and the second, a story involving the intercessory role played by Andrew in the life of a Bishop who was being led astray by the devil in the guise of a young woman.

The Martyrdom of St. Andrew

And the blessed S. Andrew, whilst he was in Achaia, he replenished all the country with churches and converted the people to the faith of Jesu Christ and informed the wife of Aegeas, which was provost and judge of the town, in the faith, and baptized her. And when Aegeas heard this he came into the city of Patras and constrained the christians to sacrifice. And St. Andrew came unto him, and said: “It behoveth thee which hast deserved to be a judge, to know thy judge which is in heaven, and he so known, to worship him, and so worshipping, withdraw thy courage from the false gods.” And Aegeas said: “Thou art Andrew that preachest a false law, which the princes of Rome have commanded to be destroyed.” To whom Andrew said: “The princes of Rome knew never how the son of God came and taught and informed them that the idols be devils, and he that teacheth such things angereth God, and he, so angered, departeth from them that he heareth them not, and therefore be they caitiffs of the devil and be so illused and deceived that they issue out of the body all naked, and bear nothing with them but sins.”

And Aegeas said to him: “These be the vanities that your Jesus preached, which was nailed on the gallows of the cross.” To whom Andrew said: “He received with his agreement the gibbet of the cross, not for his culp and trespass, but for our redemption.” And Aegeas said: “When he was delivered of his disciple, taken and holden with the Jews, and crucified by the knyghts, how sayst thou that it was by his agreement?” Then St. Andrew began to show by five reasons that Jesu Christ received death by his own agreement and will, forasmuch as he came tofore his passion, and said to his disciples that it should be, when he said: We shall go up to Jerusalem, and the son of the maid shall be betrayed. And also for that Peter would withdraw him, he reproved him, and said: Go after me, Sathanas. And also for that he showed that he had power to suffer death, and to rise again when he said: I have power to put away my soul and to take it again. And also for that he knew tofore him that betrayed him, when he gave him his supper, and showed him not. And also for that he chose the place where he should be taken, for he knew well that the traitor should come.

And St. Andrew said that he had been at all these things, and yet he said more, that the mystery of the cross was great. To whom Aegeas said: “It may not be said mystery, but torment, and if thou wilt not grant to my sayings, truly I shall make thee prove this mystery.” And Andrew said to him: “If I doubted the gibbet of the cross I would not preach the glory thereof. I will that thou hear the mystery, and if thou knew and believedst on it thou shouldst be saved.” Then he showed to him the mystery of the cross, and assigned five reasons. “The first is this: Forasmuch as the first man that deserved death was because of the tree, in breaking the commandment of God, then is it thing convenable that the second man should put away that death, in suffering the same on the tree. The second was that, he that was made of earth not corrupted, and was breaker of the commandment, then was it thing convenable that he that should repel this default, should be born of a virgin. The third; for so much as Adam had stretched his hand disordinately to the fruit forbidden, it was thing convenable that the new Adam should stretch his hands on the cross. The fourth; for so much as Adam had tasted sweetly the fruit forbidden, it is therefore reason that it be put away by thing contrary; so that Jesu Christ was fed with bitter gall. The fifth; for as much as Jesu Christ gave to us his immortality, it is thing reasonable, that he take our mortality. For if Jesu Christ had not been dead, man had never been made immortal.” And then said Aegeas: “Tell to thy disciples such vanities, and obey thou to me, and make sacrifice unto the Gods almighty.” And then said St. Andrew: “I offer every day unto God Almighty, a lamb without spot, and after that he is received of all the people, so liveth he and is all whole.” Then demanded Aegeas how that might be. And Andrew said: “Take the form for to be a disciple, and thou shalt know it well.” “I shall demand thee,” said Aegeas, “by torments.”

Then he being all angry, commanded that he should be enclosed in prison, and on the morn he came to judgment, and the blessed St. Andrew unto the sacrifice of the idols. And Aegeas commanded to be said to him: “If thou obey not to me, I shall do hang thee on the cross, for so much as thou hast praised it.” And thus as he menaced him of many torments St. Andrew said to him: “Think what torment that is most grievous that thou mayst do to me, and the more I suffer, the more I shall be agreeable to my king, because I shall be most firm in the torments and pain.” Then commanded Aegeas that he should be beaten of twenty-one men, and that he should be so beaten, bounden by the feet and hands unto the cross, to the end that his pain should endure the longer.

And when he was led unto the cross, there ran much people thit. And when he saw the cross from far he saluted it, and said: “All hail cross which art dedicate in the body of Jesu Christ, and wert adorned with the members of him, as of precious stones. Tofore that our Lord ascended on thee, thou wert the power earthly, now thou art the love of heaven; thou shalt receive me by my desire. I come to thee surely and gladly so that thou receive me gladly as disciple of him that hung on thee. For I have always worshipped thee and have desired thee to embrace. O thou cross which hast received beauty and noblesse of the members of our Lord, whom I have so long desired and curiously loved, and whom my courage hath so much desired and coveted, take me from hence, and yield me to my master, to the end that he may receive me by thee.”

'Martyrdom of St. Andrew,' Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1675-82.
And in thus saying, he despoiled and unclad him, and gave his clothes unto the butchers. And then they hung him on the cross, like as to them was commanded. And there he lived two days, and preached to twenty thousand men that were there. Then all the company swore the death of Aegeas, and said: “The holy man and debonair ought not to suffer this.” Then came thither Aegeas for to take him down off the cross. And when Andrew saw him he said: “Wherefore art thou come to me, Aegeas? If it be for penance thou shalt have it, and if it be for to take me down, know thou for certain thou shalt not take me hereof alive; for I see now my lord and king that abideth for me.” Therewith they would have unbound him, and they might in nowise touch him for their arms were bynomen and of no power. And when the holy St. Andrew saw that the world would have taken him down off the cross he made this orison hanging on the cross, as St. Austin saith in the book of penance: “Sire, suffer me not to descend from this cross alive, for it is time that thou command my body to the earth, for I have born long the charge, and have so much watched upon that which was commanded to me, and have so long travailed, that I would now be delivered of this obedience, and be taken away from this agreeable charge. I remember that it is much grievous, in proud bearing, in doubting, unsteadfast in nourishing, and have gladly laboured in the refraining of them. Sire, thou knowest how oft the world hath entended to withdraw me from the purity of contemplation, how oft he hath entended to awake me from the sleep of my sweet rest, how much and how oft times he hath made me to sorrow, and as much as I have had might I have resisted it right debonairly in fighting against it, and have by thy work and aid surmounted it: and I require of thee just and debonair guerdon and reward, and that thou command that I go not again thereto, but I yield to thee that which thou hast delivered me. Command it to another and empesh me no more, but keep me in the resurrection, so that I may receive the merit of my labour. Command my body unto the earth, so that it behoveth no more to wake, but let it be stretched freely to thee, which art fountain of joy never failing.” And when he had said this, there came from heaven a right great shining light, which environed him by the space of half an hour, in such wise that no man might see him. And when this light departed he yielded and rendered therewith his spirit.

And Maximilla, the wife of Aegeas, took away the body of the apostle, and buried it honourably. And ere that Aegeas was come again to his house, he was ravished with a devil by the way, and died tofore them all. And it is said that out of the sepulchre of St. Andrew cometh manna like unto meal, and oil which hath a right sweet savour and odour. And by that is shewed to the people of the country when there shall be plenty of goods. For when ther cometh but little of manna, the earth shall bring forth but little fruit, and when it cometh abundantly, the earth bringeth forth fruit plenteously. And this might well happen of old time, for the body of him was transported into Constantinople.

The Bishop Whom Andrew Delivered from the Snare of the Devil

Who Came Disguised as a Young Virgin

There was a bishop that led an holy and religious life, and loved St. Andrew by great devotion, and reverenced him above all other saints, so that in all his works he remembered him every day, and said certain prayers in the honour of God and St. Andrew, in such wise that the enemy had envy on him, and set him for to deceive him with all his malice, and transformed him into the form of a right fair woman, and came to the palace of the bishop, and said that she would be confessed to him. And the bishop bade her to go confess her to his penitencer, which had plain power of him. And she sent him word again that she would not reveal nor show the secrets of her confession to none but to him, and so the bishop commanded her to come; and she said to him: “Sir, I pray thee that thou have mercy on me; I am so as ye see in the years of my youth, and a maid, and was deliciously nourished from my infancy, and born of royal lineage, but I am come alone, in a strange habit; for my father which is a right mighty king would give me to a prince by marriage; whereto I answer that I have horror of all beds of marriage, and I have given my virginity to Jesu Christ for ever, and therefore I may not consent to carnal copulation. And in the end he constrained me so much that I must consent to his will or suffer divers torments; so that I am fled secretly away, and had liefer be in exile, than to break and corrupt my faith to my spouse. And because I hear the praising of your right holy life, I am fled unto you and to your guard, in hope that I may find with you place of rest, whereas I may be secret in contemplation, and eschew the evil perils of this present life, and flee the diverse tribulations of the world.”

Of which thing the bishop marvelled him greatly, as well for the great noblesse of her lineage, as for the beauty of her body, for the burning of the great love of God, and for the honest fair speaking of this woman. So that the bishop answered to her, with a meek and pleasant voice: “Daughter, be sure and doubt nothing; for he for whose love thou hast despised thyself and these things, shall give to thee the great thing. In this time present is little glory or joy, but it shall be in time to come. And I which am sergeant of the same, offer me to thee, and my goods; and choose thee an house where it shall please thee, and I will that thou dine with me this day.” And she answered and said: “Father, require of me no such thing, for by adventure some evil suspicion might come thereof. And also the resplendour of your good renomee might be thereby impaired.” To whom the bishop answered: “We shall be many together, and I shall not be with you alone, and therefore there may be no suspicion of evil.”

Then they came to the table, and were set, that one against that other, and the other folk here and there, and the bishop entendeth much to her, and beheld her alway in the visage, and he marvelled of her great beauty. And thus as he fixed his eyes on her his courage was hurt, and the ancient enemy, when he saw the heart of him, hurt [him] with a grievous dart. And this devil apperceived it and began to increase her beauty more and more; insomuch that the bishop was then ready for to require her to sin when he might.

Then a pilgrim came and began to smite strongly at the gate or door, and they would not open it. Then he cried and knocked more strongly; and the bishop asked of the woman if she would that the pilgrim should enter. And she said; “Men should ask first of him a question, grievous enough, and if he could answer thereto, he should be received, and if he could not, he should abide without, and not come in, as he that were not worthy but unwitting.” And all agreed to her sentence, and enquired which of them were sufficient to put the question. And when none was found sufficient, the bishop said: “None of us is so sufficient as ye, dame, for ye pass us all in fair speaking, and shine in wisdom more than we all; propose ye the question.”

Then she said: “Demand ye of him, which is the greatest marvel that ever God made in little space.” And then one went and demanded the pilgrim. The pilgrim answered to the messenger that it was the diversity and excellence of the faces of men: for among all so many men as have been sith the beginning of the world unto the end, two men might not be found of whom their faces were like and semblable in all things. And when the answer was heard, all they marvelled and said that this was a very and right good answer of the question. Then the woman said: “Let the second question be proposed to him, which shall be more grievous to answer to, for to prove the better the wisdom of him,” which was this: “Whether the earth is higher than all the heaven?” And when it was demanded of him the pilgrim answered: “In the heaven imperial where the body of Jesu Christ is, which is form of our flesh, he is more high than all the heaven.” Of this answer they marvelled all when the messenger reported it, and praised marvellously his wisdom.

Consequently, she said the third question, which was more dark and grievous to assoil. “For to prove the third time his wisdom, and that then he be worthy to be received at the bishop's table, demand and ask of him; How much space is from the abysm unto the same heaven.” Then the messenger demanded of the pilgrim, and he answered him: “Go to him that sent thee to me and ask of him this thing, for he knoweth better than I, and can better answer to it, for he hath measured this space when he fell from heaven into the abysm, and I never measured it. This is nothing a woman but it is a devil which hath taken the form of a woman.” And when the messenger heard this, he was sore afraid and told tofore them all this that he had heard. And when the bishop heard this and all other, they were sore afraid. And anon forthwith, the devil vanished away tofore their eyes.

And after, the bishop came again to himself, and reproved himself bitterly, weeping, repenting and requiring pardon of his sin, and sent a messenger for to fetch and bring in the pilgrim, but he found him never after. Then the bishop assembled the people, and told to them the manner of this thing, and prayed them that they would all be in orisons and prayers, in such wise that our lord would show to some person who this pilgrim was which had delivered him from so great peril. And then it was showed that night to the bishop that it was St. Andrew which had put him in the habit of a pilgrim for the deliverance of him. Then began the bishop more and more to have devotion and remembrance to St. Andrew than he had tofore.

[1] MacRory, Joseph. "St. Andrew." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. Accessed 30 Nov. 2016,
[2] Drawing from the first English edition translated by William Caxton, 1483 (with several alterations, including paragraph spacing, and the inclusion of quotation marks).

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