So what do we know about St. Andrew? Umm…I guess he’s patron saint of Scotland, and therefore patron saint of golf? Hence, we get the famous St. Andrew’s Golf Course. But really, what else?
The point is that there’s not much we know about him. We do know that he was the brother of Simon Peter. I guess he’s kind of like Shelley Duncan, the brother of former Cardinal outfielder Chris Duncan. Shelley was a great player in his own right for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians (ok, maybe not a “great” player), but to St. Louisans, he will forever be known as Chris Duncan’s brother and Dave Duncan’s son.
But St. Andrew was actually pretty important among the apostles. There are two versions of his call. The first, from the Gospel of Matthew, is that he was fishing with his brother Simon Peter when Jesus called them to be fishers of men. In the Gospel of John, however, he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and when St. John pointed out Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” St. Andrew knew that Jesus was worth following. He asked Jesus, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” And Jesus responded in that beautiful and teasing invitation, “Come and see.”
What about after the Ascension? Now we’re getting into some fuzzy area. Various church historians like Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea tell us that St. Andrew preached his way to north of the Black Sea, through modern-day Russia and Ukraine. He then went across to Byzantium, modern-day Constantinople/Istanbul, and over to Macedonia and Greece.
One common point of agreement is that St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. The non-canonical Acts of Andrew tells us that he was tied, not nailed to the cross, and remained there for two days, preaching and converting those who listened to him, until he finally gave up his spirit. Legends have it that St. Andrew asked to be crucified in a different way than Jesus out of respect, and was tied to an X-shaped cross, which to this day, is called a St. Andrew Cross. In 1964, in an outreach to our Greek Orthodox brothers and sisters, Pope Paul VI returned the relics of St. Andrew from the Vatican to the Basilica of St. Andrew in Patras, Greece, where we can still see them today.
So back to the original question, what do we know about St. Andrew? Not much at all. The Gospels give us little about his holiness. But he was an apostle, and that is enough. He was called personally to “come and see”, and then to proclaim the Good News, sharing in Jesus’ life and ultimately, his death. Holiness today is no different. It’s a call to be a follower, to “come and see.” Let’s pray for the intercession of St. Andrew today, that we would respond to that invitation, and then spread that message of hope with our lives.