I was surfing the internet when an article about the forthcoming feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle on November 30 popped up. I leafed through the pages of the article and while doing so thoughts began flooding my mind about the saint I heard several times from my parents when I was a little kid. His name was San Andres, and my still born brother, born on 30 November 1961, was named after him.
Stillbirth, by the way, is defined as a fetal death at or after 20 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. In a case like this, a baby is born without signs of life.
As far as I can remember, however, my brother was said to have been still breathing when he came out of my mother’s womb. My family blamed his death to the midwife who attended to my mother’s delivery. They claimed she had made some procedural mistake causing my baby brother’s death at delivery.
San Andres aka St. Andrew the Apostle
Incidentally, San Andres and St. Andrew was one and the same saint.
I cannot almost contain my excitement when I realized that San Andres, the saint I had been introduced to in my childhood days, and whose name was the same name given to my still born brother over 50 years ago now, was actually St. Andrew the Apostle of whom I have grown fond of (including the 12 other disciples except the Iscariot) when I started reading the book Poem of the Man-God.
Hence, I was excited when I realized that my still born brother was actually named after St. Andrew.
Who is San Andres aka St. Andrew the Apostle
As commonly known, Andrew was the brother of St. Peter. He was also a fisherman like Peter.
When you read the book, Poem of the Man-God, you will find Andrew as a shy person. But he was not without accomplishment. In fact he caused the repentance of a prostitute and paved the way for her to go to Jesus and renew her life.
St. Andrew was a silent worker.
In Volume V of the Poem of the Man-God, Jesus spoke of him, thus: “He is like the air. He is never noticed, but is always present and comforting.”
St. Andrew’s Legacy
The following are some of the recorded events in the life of St. Andrew. Wikipedia listed them as St. Andrew’s Legacy.
* Patron saint
St. Andrew is the patron saint of several countries and cities including: Barbados, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Ukraine, Amalfi in Italy, Esgueira in Portugal, Luqa in Malta, Parañaque in the Philippines and Patras in Greece. He was also the patron saint of Prussia and of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He is considered the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
* St. Andrew’s Saltire
The flag of Scotland (and consequently the Union Flag and those of some of the former colonies of the British Empire) feature Saint Andrew’s saltire cross. The saltire is also the flag of Tenerife, the former flag of Galicia and the Russian Navy Ensign. The Confederate flag also features a saltire commonly referred to as a St Andrew’s cross, although its designer, William Porcher Miles, said he changed it from an upright cross to a saltire so that it would not be a religious symbol but merely a heraldic device. The Alabama flag also shows that device.
* St. Andrew’s Feast on November 30th
The feast of Andrew is observed on 30 November in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is the national day of Scotland. In the traditional liturgical books of the Catholic Church, the feast of Saint Andrew is the first feast day in the Proper of Saints.
Interesting Facts About St. Andrew the Apostle
Relics of the Apostle Andrew had been kept at the Basilica of Saint Andrew in Patras, Greece; at the Amalfi Cathedral in Amalfi, Italy; at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, in Edinburgh, Scotland; and at the Church of St Andrew and St Albert in Warsaw, Poland.
A story said that St. Regulus (Rule), a monk in Patras, Greece dreamed of an angel advising him to hide St. Andrew’s bones. Thus, St. Andrew’s remains have been preserved in Patras until Regulus again had another dream advising him to take the hidden relics to the ends of the earth for protection. He was further advised that wherever he was shipwrecked he had to build a shrine for them.
Thus when St. Rule sailed to the west he took with him relics of St. Andrew which include a kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth.
Shortly thereafter, most of the relics were translated from Patras to Constantinople by order of the Roman emperor Constantius II around 357 and deposited them in the Church of the Holy Apostles.
Emperor Basil I, who ruled Constantinople from 867 to 886, returned the skull of Saint Andrew, to Patras, Greece.
In 1208, following the sack of Constantinople, Cardinal Peter of Capua, took the relics of St. Andrew (along with that of St. Peter’s), which remained in the imperial city to Amalfi, Italy. A cathedral and the town where the cathedral was built in Amalfi was dedicated to Saint Andrew. Said cathedral accordingly housed a tomb in its crypt where most of the relics of the apostle, including an occipital bone, remained.
In 1461 Thomas Palaeologus, the youngest surviving son of Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, who ruled the province of Morea, the medieval name for the Peloponnese, fled Patras for exile in Italy when the Ottomans crossed the Strait of Corinth bringing with him what was purported to be the skull of Saint Andrew. He then gave the head to Pope Pius II who had it enshrined in one of the four central piers of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
In September 1964, Pope Paul VI, as a gesture of goodwill toward the Greek Orthodox Church, ordered that all of the relics of Saint Andrew that are in the Vatican City be sent back to Patras. On 24 September 1964, Cardinal Augustin Bea along with many other cardinals presented St. Andrew’s skull to Bishop Constantine of Patras.
The cross of Saint Andrew, which was taken from Greece during the Crusades by the Duke of Burgundy and kept in the church of St. Victor in Marseilles was returned to Patras on 19 January 1980. A Catholic delegation led by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray presented the cross to the Bishop of Patras Nicodemus.
All the relics, which consist of small finger, the skull (part of the top of the cranium of Saint Andrew), and the cross on which he was martyred, have been kept in the Church of St. Andrew at Patras in a special shrine and are revered in a special ceremony every 30 November, his feast day.
In 2006, the Catholic Church, again through Cardinal Etchegaray, gave the Greek Orthodox Church another relic of Saint Andrew.
Tradition and Legends
The church tradition of Georgia regards Saint Andrew as the first preacher of Christianity in the territory of Georgia and as the founder of the Georgian church. This tradition was apparently derived from the Byzantine sources, particularly Nicetas of Paphlagonia (died c. 890) who asserted that Andrew preached to the Iberians, Sauromatians, Taurians, and Scythians and to every region and city, on the Black Sea, both north and south. This version was accepted by the 10th–11th century Georgian ecclesiastics and adding more details inserted it in the Georgian Chronicles.
The story of Saint Andrew’s mission in the Georgian lands endowed the Georgian church with apostolic origin and served as a defense argument to George the Hagiorite against the encroachments from the Antiochian church authorities on autocephaly of the Georgian church.
Another Georgian monk, Ephraim the Minor, produced a thesis, reconciling Saint Andrew’s story with an earlier evidence of the 4th-century conversion of Georgians by Saint Nino and explaining the necessity of the “second Christening” by Nino. The thesis was made canonical by the Georgian church council in 1103. The Georgian Orthodox Church marks two feast days in honor of Saint Andrew, on 12 May and 13 December. The former date, dedicated to Saint Andrew’s arrival in Georgia, becomes a Georgian public holiday.
Cypriot tradition holds that a ship which was transporting Saint Andrew went off course and ran aground. Upon coming ashore, Andrew struck the rocks with his staff at which point a spring of healing waters gushed forth. Using it, the sight of the ship’s captain, who had been blind in one eye, was restored. Thereafter, the site became a place of pilgrimage and a fortified monastery was erected there in the 12th century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lionheart.
In the 15th century, a small chapel was built close to the shore. The main monastery of the current church dates to the 18th century.
Much recent pilgrimages told of a story in 1895 about the son of one Maria Georgiou who was kidnapped. Seventeen years later, Saint Andrew appeared to her in a dream, telling her to pray for her son’s return to the monastery. Living in Anatolia, she embarked on the journey of crossing Cyprus on a very crowded boat. As she was telling her story during the journey, one of the passengers, a young Dervish priest, became more and more interested. Asking if her son had any distinguishing marks, he stripped off his clothes to reveal the same marks of Maria’s kidnapped son. Mother and son were thus reunited.
Apostolos Andreas Monastery (Greek: Απόστολος Ανδρέας) is a monastery dedicated to Saint Andrew situated just south of Cape Apostolos Andreas, which is the north-easternmost point of the island of Cyprus, in Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso) in the Karpass Peninsula. The monastery is an important site to the Cypriot Orthodox Church. It was once known as ‘the Lourdes of Cyprus’, served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing group of volunteer priests and laymen. Both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities consider the monastery a holy place. As such, it is visited by many people for votive prayers.
A small chapel at Luqa was dedicated to Andrew in 1497. This chapel contained three altars, one of them specificallt dedicated to Andrew. A painting showing Mary with Saints Andrew and Paul was painted by Maltese artist Filippo Dingli. The statue of Andrew was sculpted in wood by Giuseppe Scolaro in 1779. This statue underwent several restoration works including that of 1913 performed by the Maltese artist Abraham Gatt. The Martyrdom of Saint Andrew on the main altar of the church was painted by Mattia Preti in 1687.
The official stance of the Romanian Orthodox Church is that Andrew preached the Gospel in the province of Dobruja (Scythia Minor) to the Daco-Romans, whom he is said to have converted to Christianity. Such a tradition was however not widely acknowledged until the 20th century.
According to Hippolyte of Antioch (died c. 250 C.E.), Saint Andrew preached in Scythia, a possible reference to Scythia Minor, whose territory was integrated into Romania in the late 19th century.
Tradition regarding the early Christian history of Ukraine holds that the apostle Andrew preached on the southern borders of modern-day Ukraine, along the Black Sea. Legend has it that he travelled up the Dnieper River and reached the future location of Kiev, where he erected a cross on the site where the Saint Andrew’s Church of Kiev currently stands, and where he prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city. Because of this connection to Kiev, Saint Andrew is considered to be the patron saint of the two East Slavic nations descended from the Kievan Rus: Ukraine and Russia, the latter country using the Saint Andrew’s Cross on its naval ensign. The third East Slavic nation, Belarus, however, reveres Euphrosyne of Polotsk, a local saint, as its patron instead.
The Saltire (or “Saint Andrew’s Cross”) is the national flag of Scotland.
Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought by divine guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern Scottish town of St Andrews stands today (Gaelic, Cill Rìmhinn).
According to legend, in 832 AD, Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford, East Lothian. The legend states that he was heavily outnumbered and while in prayer on the eve of the battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the morning of the battle white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud phenomenon as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and named Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland on the basis of this legend. However, there is evidence that Andrew was venerated in Scotland before this.
Andrew’s connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, when the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been “outranked” by Peter and that Peter’s brother would make a higher ranking patron. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”. Numerous parish churches in the Church of Scotland and congregations of other Christian churches in Scotland are named after Andrew. The national church of the Scottish people in Rome, Sant’Andrea degli Scozzesi is dedicated to Saint Andrew.
A local superstition uses the cross of Saint Andrew as a hex sign on the fireplaces in northern England and Scotland to prevent witches from flying down the chimney and entering the house to do mischief. By placing the Saint Andrew’s cross on one of the fireplace posts or lintels, witches are prevented from entering through this opening. In this case, it is similar to the use of a witch ball, although the cross will actively prevent witches from entering, and the witch ball will passively delay or entice the witch, and perhaps entrap it.
A form of St. Andrew’s cross called the Cross of Bourgogne was used as the flag of the Duchy of Burgandy, and after the Duchy was acquired by Spain, by the Spanish Crown, and later as a Spanish naval flag and finally as an army battle flag up until 1843. Today, it is still a part of various Spanish military insignia and makes part of the Coat of Arms of the king of Spain as it did with General Franco.
In Spain, Saint Andrew is the patron of several cities and towns: San Andrés (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), San Andrés y Sauces (La Palma), Navalmoral de la Mata (Cáceres), Éibar (Guipúzcoa), Baeza (Jaén), Pobladura de Pelayo García and Pobladura de Yuso (León), Berlangas de Roa (Burgos), Ligüerzana (Palencia), Castillo de Bayuela (Toledo), Almoradí (Alicante), Estella (Navarra), San Andrés de Palomar (Barcelona), Adamuz (Córdoba) and San Andrés [es] in Cameros (La Rioja).
My Still Born Brother who was Named after San Andres aka St. Andrew
Let’s go back to my still born brother whom my parents named Andres after the saint, Andrew the Apostle or San Andres.
There is actually no extraordinary connection between my brother and San Andres in this blog post except that my brother was named after the saint.
I was just thrilled to realize that my brother was named after St. Andrew who’s feast day was coming up in November 30.
Now here’s the interesting story about my still born brother.
Back In 1982 when my mother got sick of cancer and underwent operation that lasted 12 hours she had a near death experience, which she recounted to us, her family, when she regained consciousness and was strong enough to communicate to the family.
This time, however, a tracheal tube had been inserted in her esophagus to make way for food as prior to operation she was having difficulty swallowing food. As a consequence she lost the ability to speak.
A few days after she was taken out from the ICU and brought back to her regular hospital room she asked for a pen and paper. Note that she could not speak. And so she only made gestures in her hand when she wanted something. On this particular day she made a signal in her right hand showing she needed to write.
When we finally understood what she was asking, we gave her a pencil and a first grade pad paper which belonged to my youngest brother, whom I took to the hospital with me when I went home to pick up clothes.
This was the gist of what she wrote:
She found herself at the foot of a very long stairway. She decided to climb the stairs until she reached the top. At the top she found Mother Mary, whom she addressed as the Lady of Perpetual Help waiting for her with Jesus beside her. Mary reached out to her hand when she was making the last few steps of the stairs.
Then Mary said to her “your family is there” pointing her finger towards a group of people from a distance, which according to my mother looked like a field with so many people there. Then she went to them. And she met her father, mother, and guess who?
My brother Andres.
But he was not a baby anymore. He was a grown up young man.
My grandmother said to him, “This is your mother.”
And my brother said to her: “Ma, don’t leave us anymore.”
When he said this. My grandfather objected and said, “She is not suited here, yet.”
When my grandfather said that, my mother immediately woke up and found herself at the ICU of the hospital.
My brother who did not make it during his birth here on earth was actually alive in heaven and already a grown up young man.
Honoring St. Andrew on His Feast Day
I am writing and posting this article today to honor St. Andrew the Apostle on his feast day.
But perhaps the very best way to honor him is to recite a prayer that has been traditionally recited 15 times a day beginning on his feast day on November 30 until Christmas on December 25.
This short but impactful prayer will prepare us spiritually as we move closer and closer to the birthday of Jesus.
Here is the prayer:
HAIL and BLESSED be the hour and moment in which the Son of God of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires.
( here mention your request )
through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
I would like to invite you to join me now in reciting this prayer 15 times.
Just don’t forget to recite it again (15 times) tomorrow, and 15 times everyday afterwards, until Christmas.
Likewise, at the end of your every prayer invoke St. Andrew’ prayer for you, thus:
St. Andrew the Apostle, pray for us.