St. Andrew the First-Called

Today the Christian world celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew the First Called of the Apostles. This is an interesting feast day for me since it brings two parts of my life together. St. Andrew is, of course, the patron of Scotland but he is also the patron of Romania.

Biblical accounts of St. Andrew have him being the first one that Jesus called to follow him. We learn that he then went off to his brother, St. Peter, and told Peter that he had found the messiah and to come and see for himself. Well we know the rest of the story. At the end of his life, St. Andrew was crucified on an “X” shaped Cross in the City of Patras on the Northern coast of the Peloponnese. Legend has it that St. Andrew asked to be crucified on the Saltire rather than the Latin cross because he did not deem himself worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus had been.

The Official Position of the Romanian Orthodox Church is that St. Andrew came to the area around the Black Sea and converted the Daco-Romanians. Because of this St. Andrew has been called the Enlightener of the Romanians and remains one of the patrons of Romania.

Far more famous than his relationship to Romania or any other place is the St. Andrew’s patronage of Scotland. I find it interesting that this is the patronage that is far more well-known and he actually never set foot in Scotland!

The legend is that in 832 AD, Oengus II led the Pictish army against the Angels. The night before the battle he prayed that if granted victory in the battle he would name St. Andrew as the patron of Scotland. In the morning the clouds formed and “X” shape which emboldened Oengus and he was victorious in the battle and won the day. Oengus kept his word and proclaimed St. Andrew the Patron and Protector of Scotland. The Scottish flag depicts the white “X” against a blue background in honor of the vision of that day. The Scottish flag is commonly known as the Saltier.

St. Andrew’s connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, (664 AD) when the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been “outranked” by Peter and that Peter’s brother would make a higher ranking patron. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”.

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, we are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Episcopal Daily Office)

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