The Apostle Andrew has been called the Protoclete – the first to be called – and in the gospels he appears, with Simon Peter, James and John, as one of the four leading disciples.
Yet there is some discrepancy between the accounts of his calling given in the synoptic gospels, and that given in St John.
In Mark 1:16-20 Jesus is walking beside the Sea of Galilee when he sees two fishermen, Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea. With startling directness Jesus says: “Come and follow me; I will make you fishers of men.” Even more surprisingly, they immediately dropped their nets and followed him.
In John 1:35-42, by contrast, Andrew and a companion (not Simon Peter) are first introduced as disciples of John the Baptist, who hears John exclaim, as Jesus walks by: “Look, this is the Lamb of God.”
Intrigued, the two of them follow Jesus, who asks: “What would you have of me?”
“Rabbi,” they replied, “where dost thou live?”
“Come and see,” Jesus tells them. So they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him for the rest of the day.
On leaving Jesus, Andrew, clearly bursting with excitement, rushes to find his brother Simon Peter to tell him of the stunning revelation: “We have found the Messiah.” And so Andrew takes Simon to Jesus, who, we are told in a striking detail, “looked closely” at the newcomer before calling him Cephas – that is, “the rock” in Aramaic, and Petros in Greek.
At the feeding of the 5,000 it was Andrew who told Jesus of the boy with with barley loaves and the five fishes. One might perhaps discern here an echo of his role in the calling of Simon Peter.
According to Eusebius, Andrew later preached in Scythia (the Ukraine), while other traditions tell of his having been in what are now Turkey and Greece. There are claims that he reached Byzantium, but these may have been attempts to boost the prestige of the Eastern Church against Rome.
Andrew is said to have been martyred around 60 AD at Patras in the Peloponnese. The story that he was bound to a saltire, or diagonal cross, is not found before the 10th century, and did not become widespread until the 14th century.
The Emperor Constantius II (337-61) moved Andrew’s relics to Byzantium. When the Crusaders captured Constantinople in 1204 the remains were taken to Amalfi cathedral. The skull was kept at the Vatican from 1461, and finally returned to Constantinople by Pope Paul VI (1963-78).
Alternatively, St Regulus took the saint’s bones to Scotland in the fourth century, which is why the English lost the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Andrew is also a patron saint of Russia.