Saint Andrew the First-Called
30 November / 13 December
Troparion, Tone 4
As the first-called of the apostles and brother of their leader, / entreat the Master of all / to grant peace to the world, O Andrew, // and great mercy to our souls.
Kontakion, Tone 2
Let us praise the divine leader namesake of courage, / first-called disciple and Peter’s kinsman. / For as of old Christ called to him so he now calls to us: // Come, we have found the Desired One.
Life of Saint Andrew
The holy apostle Andrew the First Called was born in Bethsaida in Galilee. His father Jonas was a fisherman and he handed over his trade to his sons Andrew and Simon (the apostle Peter). From childhood the little Andrew was very inquisitive and already at the age of five he was going to the synagogue to learn about the Holy Scriptures, astronomy and arithmetic. In his youth the future apostle dreamed of serving God and refused to marry, preserving his chastity. When Andrew and his brother Simon grew up, they moved to Capernaum, where they engaged in the fishing trade with Zebedee and his sons John and Jacob (who were afterwards also apostles). At that time John the Baptist began his preaching concerning the coming of the Messiah. Andrew witnessed the baptism of Jesus Christ and was, along with his brother, among the first men whom Jesus called to follow him, saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” It may be for this reason that among the apostles he was known as the first-called. So Andrew became the Messiah’s follower. Once in the course of a long sermon Jesus had to feed 5000 people, and at his request, Andrew pointed to a boy who had five loaves of bread and two fishes, and when Christ blessed them they were transformed into food that satisfied 5000 people. The apostle Andrew then followed the Saviour until the end of his earthly life and when Christ rose from the dead, he was present at the time when the Holy Spirit appeared. Also, like Christ, the apostle Andrew was crucified on the cross. He died in the town of Patras in Greece. Part of his remains are preserved in the Cathedral of the Holy Apostle Andrew, which is one of the largest cathedrals in the Balkans.
Some legends exist about sermons and the spread of Christianity by the apostle. The most well-known of them are his journeys around the south and east of Europe at that time. In Britain the Apostle Andrew is one of the leading saints and was proclaimed the defender of Scotland. This is connected with two beautiful popular beliefs. According to the first of these, a monk named Rule (Regulus) dreamt he saw an angel who commanded the monk to take some relics of the saint and bring them from Byzantium by sea to the West. Taking a lot of time in travelling, the monk`s ship was caught up in a violent storm and driven to the coast of Scotland, to the hamlet of Kilrymont (Saint Andrews). At the same time the Apostle appeared in a vision to the Scottish king and promised victory over enemies, which soon happened. As a token of gratitude, the king built a church in honour of the Apostle Andrew the First Called, to which a large number of pilgrims came to venerate the holy remains and be cured in mind and body. Another legend says that Bishop Acca, the successor of St. Wilfred in the 8th century took the apostle’s remains out of pilgrimage and founded a church in honour of the holy apostle Andrew. Also, as in the first tradition, there is a story in which the Holy Apostle Andrew the First Called appeared before the King of Scotland and promised help in defeating the enemy. As a token of gratitude the king endowed the church of the Holy Apostle Andrew with many gifts. In the blood-stained years of the Reformation of the church in England the remains of Saint Andrew the First Called, which were in Scotland, were completely destroyed, but the profound faith of the people was able to preserve and convey through generations wonderful stories and legends about the saint. The love of the British people towards the apostle Andrew the First Called continues to survive, not failing to give his name to educational establishments, streets, football stadiums and innumerable churches.
The persistent desire to save human souls and warm love of Christ drove the apostle onwards, in spite of the enormous dangers accompanying him during his travels and sermons. For this reason it was said among the people that the Apostle Andrew protected in particular pilgrims, seamen and fishermen, as he himself spent a lot of time on the sea. And of course he helps any ordinary people who direct their prayers towards the Lord and place their trust in Him.
The church in which our services take place was founded in the 19th century to serve the working class, which was in the process of expansion and development in the town of Romford. Its church designation was taken from the main parish church of St Andrew the First Called in the town of Hornchurch. In the Middle Ages the people living in Romford did not have their own church and they had to travel a long way to the church in another town – more often in rain or a cold wind. Finally in the 11th century not far from the present Romford market there was built a chapel dedicated to the Apostle Andrew. It belonged to the parish of Hornchurch. After many floods the chapel became dilapidated, not suitable for use and completely collapsed. And only after several centuries was a church of the Holy Apostle Andrew built, which has stood in the old street of St Andrew until this day.
Holy Andrew the First Called, pray to God for us!