As we all know, Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland, and also of Romania, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Sicily, Amalfi, and Malta; The Church in the East also honours him as the founder of the Patriarchal See of Constantinople.
In addition to that, Andrew is also Patron Saint of Army Rangers, of mariners, fishermen, and fishmongers, of rope-makers, of singers and performers, of spinsters, and of women wishing to become mothers !!
And apparently some even believe that he provides protection against gout and sore throats ! What about COVID-19 ?
Though no one knows for sure why Scotland chose Andrew as their Patron Saint, legend has it that in the 9th Century, King Angus of Scotland was preparing for a battle against the English, when St. Andrew appeared to him in a dream promising him victory. Then, on the day of the battle, an X symbol appeared in the sky, which was the symbol of Saint Andrew, for it is believed that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross. The king vowed that, if they won the battle, St Andrew would be made the patron saint of Scotland - and that is exactly what happened in the year 1320. This is why the Scottish flag has the X-shaped cross on it.
In 'Newsround' last year, on St. Andrew's day - November 30th - the BBC mentioned that Mythology claims that St. Andrew's connection with Scotland goes still further back in time; that Scottish people are descended from an ancient population called the Scythians, who lived then on the Black Sea (this is now Romania and Bulgaria), whom St. Andrew converted to Christianity. Legend also claims that his relics were brought to Scotland in the 8th century.
Whatever the truth may be, it is the Gospel stories in the New Testament that high-light St. Andrew's remarkable faith and insight. He was apparently a humble fisherman, who was prepared to give up his livelihood, his home, and his family to faithfully follow Jesus Christ to the very end of Our Lord's life.
St. Andrew was a son of Jonah, or John, born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee during the early first century, and his elder brother was Simon Peter.
The Gospel of St Matthew tells how Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee when he sees Andrew and Simon Peter fishing, and he asks the two men to leave their nets, their way of life, their homes, to become his disciples, and to fish instead for human souls. So, for the rest of their lives these two brothers were disciples of Christ, to become two of his 12 blessed Apostles.
The Gospel of John does tell a different story about Andrew's first meeting with Christ, yet the outcome is exactly the same, Andrew follows Jesus, and introduces his brother Simon Peter to him.
It is one of my favourite stories, so I encourage you to read it for yourselves, John Chapter one, beginning at verse 35. And then read St Matthew's story from Matthew chapter 4, beginning at verse 18. Compare them here. And think about the faith of those four brave men, whose hearts were open to the call of Christ. They gave their lives to God, and his Holy Spirit empowered them to become Apostles. Each one died for his faith.
It is surprising, that though Andrew has a seemingly important role as an early follower of Christ, he is only mentioned 12 times in the entire New Testament—and four of those times are simply in lists of the 12 apostles! He comes onto the scene early in the gospels, but publically he only plays a minor role.
Yet it is Andrew's faith and bravery that teach us how God works in the hearts of ordinary people so that his word will never be forgotten. Not everyone is called to be famous pillars of the church like Peter, James, and John; some are called to work quietly behind the scenes, bringing encouragement and faith to those around them. We must never forget that it was St Andrew, Patron Saint of this Church, who brought Peter to meet Jesus, and it was Andrew who first declared Jesus to be the Messiah.