Today, has been the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. In the West, he is an Apostle often forgotten in the shadow of his brother St. Peter.
My thoughts on St. Andrew revolve around two points, both a bit pedestrian perhaps, but both personally touching.
The first is my visit to the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Amalfi. I visited that city on the coast of Italy many years ago, and was taken by its proximity to the sea, its fine grappa, and the beautiful Cathedral with piazza. The relics of St. Andrew are said to have been brought to the Cathedral from Constantinople in 1206 by a Pietro Capuano after that city was sacked. The marble statue of St. Andrew in the piazza is the iconic image of St. Andrew in my mind, the one that shall stand out perhaps forever. I believe I took a photo of it with my late father’s camera, but I haven’t the slightest clue where those photos are now. At any rate, I should thank Fr. Eric Berns for introducing me to Amalfi.
The second remembrance of St. Andrew that I have is the little and wonderfully strange tidbit about the apostle from an early third century document called the Muratorian Fragment. In it is related the dilemma of St. John the Evangelist, who was not quite yet the Evangelist, but was considering whether or not he ought to be an Evangelist. Peer pressure, the fragment tells us, was being brought upon the Beloved Disciple that he might sit down and write the fourth Gospel. St. John wavered, but invited his fellow apostles to fast with him for three days. At the end of those days, they would share with each other what they received in prayer and St. John would make his decision. By the end of the first day St. Andrew came forward, told St. John that God wanted him to write the Gospel, and it was left at that.
I can just imagine the scene: holy apostles sitting about, deep in prayer, perhaps working on the grounds where John and Mary lived. At once, all of a sudden, the pragmatic fisherman from Galilee steps up and announces to young John to quit wavering and get to writing. I think for this, St. Andrew ought to get some patronage for writers instead of or on top of his patronage of fishermen, single lay women, and singers. Those with writer’s block or struggling with the prospect of starting a book perhaps ought to pray to St. Andrew. No doubt, the good saint will give it to them straight.
Happy Feast of St. Andrew.