Apostle Andrew the First-Called
Galilee is the birthplace of St. Andrew the Apostle. It is located in the north of the Holy Land. Good-natured and hospitable people lived here. They managed to get along with the Greeks, who represented a large part of the population of Galilee.
At the time when John the Baptist was preaching on the banks of the Jordan, Andrew the First-Called and John the Apostle went after him. He tried to answer the questions with his teaching. Many people believed that John the Baptist was the long-awaited Messiah. But he said that he was sent by the Messiah to these lands to prepare the way for Him. During this period, Jesus came to John the Baptist to perform the baptism. He pointed to God and told the disciples that the Lamb of God stood before them, ready to accept all the humans’ sins. Andrew and John went after Jesus after these words. When he saw them, he asked them what they wanted from him. The answer was a question about the place of residence of Jesus. He invited them to follow him to see where he lived. It was from that moment that Andrew and John became disciples of God. Andrew the Apostle shared with his brother Simon Peter the news that he had found the Messiah. He also loved his teaching.
But the consecration of the brothers to the apostolic rank was not instantaneous. They left God for a while. Brothers Andrew and Simon Peter, as well as Brothers John and Jacob, returned to their families and engaged in the usual occupation of fishing. Jesus passed by the Lake of Galilee a few months later. He saw the brothers fishing and invited them to follow him. The men followed God’s advice. They left worldly affairs forever and became His devoted disciples.
Andrew went after God before the others. He was called the First-Called for this reason. The Apostle accompanied Jesus throughout the entire service. He, along with other disciples of God, could meet with Him after the resurrection and was also on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus blessed him and went to Heaven.
The apostles cast lots to determine where they would go to preach the Gospel. The lot decided that the Andrew the Apostle was to go to the countries located along the Black Sea coast, as well as to the northern part of the Balkan Peninsula and Scythia. It was here that the Russian Federation was formed years later. According to the legend, Andrew the First-Called preached on the Chersonesus Peninsula. After that, he went up the Dnieper in a northerly direction and reached the lands where Kyiv was later formed. He told the disciples to believe that the grace of God would shine on those mountains, and soon a beautiful city would be formed there, which would be baptized by God, and many churches would be built on its territory. Then the mountains of Kyiv were blessed by the apostle. He placed a cross on one of them. This was a harbinger of the fact that the future inhabitants of Kyivan Rus’ will accept the faith.
The city of Patras became a stopover for St. Andrew the First-Called in Greece. It was located near the Gulf of Patras. The apostle managed to heal many locals by laying hands on them. The noble Maximilla was among those who were healed. She believed in God and became a disciple of the First-Called. Other residents of the city also became deeply religious. This was the reason for the bitterness of the local ruler Egeat to Andrew the First-Called. He ordered his crucifixion. However, this decision did not frighten Andrew at all. He gave an inspired sermon in which he taught the people about the power of the spirit and the importance of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Egeat was skeptical about the sermon of the First-Called. He gave the order to crucify him, accompanied by prolonged torment. It was tied to an X-shaped cross. His feet and hands were not nailed to the cross to prevent a quick death. Despite the indignation of the locals, the terrible sentence of the ruler was carried out.
All the time that the First-Called was hanging on the cross, he did not stop reading prayers. The cross was illuminated by the heavenly light at the moment when the soul of the First-Called left his body. It was in this radiance that it passed into the Kingdom of God, where it found Eternal life. Andrew left his life in torment 62 years after the Birth of Christ.
The Russian Church has also considered the successor of St. Andrew the First-Called for the reason that it adopted the Byzantine faith. This was the reason for the veneration of the apostle in Russia during the period preceding the revolution. A special order was established by Peter I in honor of St. Andrew the Apostle. The dignitaries of the state received it as a reward. Since the reign of Peter I, the Russian navy has chosen the St. Andrew’s flag as its banner. It is a white background with a blue X-shaped cross on it.