The St. Apostle Andrew the First-Called was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel, he was the first to have followed Christ: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him."(Matthew, 4: 17–20), therefore the Apostle Andrew was called the First-Called. Before meeting the Savior, St. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist (John, 1: 40).
The Gospel according to Luke tells how Jesus Christ chose his disciples: "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles." (Luke, 6, 12–13). The apostles were destined to witness the earthly life of Jesus Chirst, His death on the cross and the Raising of the dead on the third day: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you." (Luke, 24, 46–49). When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles on the fiftieth day of Pascha, they became the preachers of the Gospels and the founders of the New Church.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, St. Andrew the First-Called went to preach the Gospel to pagans. Stories of his apostolic services survived in the apocryphal accounts and a narrative that would serve as a basis for the 9th century Hagiography of St. Andrew, compiled by Epiphany the Monk. According to legend, St. Andrew the First-Called made three trips along the Black Sea converting pagans to Christianity. The Tale of the Saint Apostle Andrew who came to Rus to baptize the Russian Land, incorporated into The Tale of Bygone Years, reports that during his preaching in Scythia, the Apostle Andrew visited the places that would later become Kiev and Novgorod. The Apostle Andrew blessed the foundation place of Kiev by putting up a cross on the Dnieper’s banks.
While converting pagans to Christ, the Apostle Andrew worked many wonders. For his apostolic mission St. Andrew was arrested at the city of Patras (Greece), thrown into prison and crucified on an X-shaped cross, now commonly known as St. Andrew Cross.
In Byzantine and Russian medieval art the Apostle Andrew the First-Called is portrayed as a man with gray disheveled hair and a small beard, dressed in a chiton and himation. The earliest known image of St. Andrew dating back to the 4th – 5th century is located in the Karmouz catacomb in contemporary Egypt. In medieval Russian art, the image of the Apostle Andrew with a scroll in the hand was often included in the Deesis tier of the high iconostasis, such as the 1408 icon of The Apostle Andrew from the iconostasis at the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir (now located in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow).
The Apostle Andrew the First-Called is commemorated on December 13 (November 30, O.S.) and July 13 (June 30, O.S.).
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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