St Andrew's Church
covehithe with benacre
St Andrew the Apostle
"Almighty God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: Grant unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments: through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"
Andrew, so the New Testament reminds us, was the brother of Simon Peter. Born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee between 5AD and 10AD, he grew up with a strong sense of curiosity, having gone to the synagogue school at the age of five to study scripture and then astronomy and arithmetic.
Both he and his brother Peter became fishermen by trade and were eventually called to become disciples of Jesus and "fishers of men". Andrew had already met John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan, whose testimony encouraged him to follow Jesus. Subsequently, the narratives record, Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, observed Simon and Andrew fishing, and called them to discipleship.
Thenceforth, the two brothers left everything to follow him. It was Andrew who brought the boy with loaves and fishes to Jesus before the feeding of the five thousand. Along with Peter and the other disciples, he was also present at the Last Supper.
According to the apocryphal 'Acts of Andrew' and other sources, Andrew the Apostle preached in Asia Minor and along the Black Sea, travelling as far as Kiev and then on to Novgorod in North West Russia. Hence he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Poland.
He also preached in Byzantium, an ancient Greek colony on the site that later became Constantinople, and then Istanbul. In due course, he was recognised as a patron saint by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Andrew was eventually martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patrae) in Acheaea, on the north west coast of Greece. He was given the choice of being offered as a sacrifice to the gods or being scourged and crucified. He chose crucifixion on an X-shaped cross, known as a 'saltire', feeling himself unworthy to be crucified on the upright cross of Christ. He hung on the cross for three days, fixed not by nails but by rope around his hands and feet. Even in that last agony, he continued to preach.
Relics of St Andrew are kept at the Basilica of St Andrew in Patras, Greece; the Duomo di Sant' Adrea in Amalfi, Italy; the Church of St Andrew and St Albert in Warsaw, Poland; and St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh.
The Feast of St Andrew is observed on 30th November.