Today is the feast day of the first called Apostle, brother of St. Peter and founder of the church of Constantinople St. Andrew. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist who went along with the beloved disciple St. John to follow our Lord at the direction of John the Forerunner. He later introduced his younger brother Simon to the Lord who made of him Peter the Rock on which He built his Church.
Tradition records that St. Andrew went north after Pentecost to found the church of Byzantium on the Bosporus, the future site of Constantinople and later preached in what is now Russia and in what we now call the Ukraine but what was then broadly called Scythia. He was martyred in the Peloponnese in southern Greece, crucified by the Roman governor. St. Andrew is the great patron of the East, the older brother of Simon Peter the founder of the See of Rome. Peter was ordained Prince of the Apostles not by his own choice or merit, but by the will of God. The East and the West are brothers, the East older while the West is younger but with the Apostolic See of Rome given primacy by its founder, its history, and the inscrutable divine Will. Pray for the unity of the Church, the unity between East and West, and to paraphrase Bl. John Paul II that the Church may breathe with both lungs once again.
Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, for its liberty and its salvation, and the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.
Message of Pope Francis to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I on the Feast of St. Andrew
St. Andrew was the older brother of St. Peter and the first called. St. John’s Gospel records that both he and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist (presumably the beloved disciple St. John himself) followed Christ on the word of John the Baptist and went to stay with him that day. Tradition going back through Eusebius to Origen says that Andrew went north after Our Lord’s Ascension to preach the Gospel. He is remembered as the first bishop of the Greek settlement of Byzantium on the Bosporus, which 300 years later when the emperor Constantine decided to make it his capital became the great urban metropolis of Constantinople: the mother of the Christian world. Tradition also records that St. Andrew went beyond the Bosporus, into the regions that were then called Scythia but now form the Ukraine and European Russia. Thus St. Andrew is also the patron of Russia and the Ukraine as well as Georgia. He ended his life in martyrdom; crucified in the city of Patras, in the Peloponnese in modern Greece. His feast day is celebrated November 30 in both the Eastern and Western Church.
St. Andrew is thus the first bishop of Constantinople and Greek Orthodox ecumenical patriarchs claim their apostolic authority from him, the first called and the older brother of the Prince of the Apostles. The See of Constantinople is, to paraphrase Blessed John Paul II, the other lung with which the Church breathes. It was a city great and powerful in its day, the master of the East though embroiled to a much further extent than Rome in the Christological disputes that erupted following the Edict of Milan. After the rise of Islam in the seventh century the See of Constantinople lost much of its previous grandeur but persevered through the centuries and endured several political and military disasters, including the schism with Rome dating from 1054 and the occupation of the city by the Crusaders in the 13th century from which it never really recovered, before the Christian emperors finally succumbed to their Turkish conquerors in 1453. Ever since that day the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the See of St. Andrew, has been politically and materially subject to foreign masters. Offer the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary each Monday for this great See, for its liberty and its salvation, and the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome, and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.