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May 20, 2022

Patron Saint of Romania – Saint Andrew celebrated today

The last day of November is Saint Andrew’s day, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, and an iconic saint figure for our country. Saint Andrew represents the main reference point for Romanian Christianity. He and his brother Simon, nicknamed Peter, were born in a fisherman’s family in Bethsaida. In Greek, Andrew means ‘courage,’ ‘manliness,’ and since the trade was passed down from father to son, he and his brother became fishermen. At first Andrew, the fisherman of Bethsaida, became the disciple of St. John the Baptist along with John the son of Zebedee. Saint John the Baptist was active in Judea where he was preaching repentance, baptizing people in the Jordan River, preparing them for the coming of the Lord. The presence of the future Apostles Andrew and John among the Baptist’s disciples prepared their meeting with Jesus Christ, a meeting that profoundly marked their destinies. It is likely that Andrew and John witnessed John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. From being Saint John the Baptist’s disciple, Saint Andrew became the first Apostle of Jesus Christ, being known among the Christians as ‘the first called,’ with Saint John describing that moment in his gospel. Moreover, Saint Andrew was the one that brought his brother Simon-Peter to Jesus, telling the former ‘I have found the Messiah’ (John 1:41).

Monk Epiphanius (century 8-9) talks about Apostle Andrew’s missionary activity, stating that he preached the Gospel in several provinces of Asia Minor. After that he went to Odessos (Varna) in Moesia where he appointed Apion, one of his collaborators and disciples, bishop. Another Greek-language document, ‘Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae,’ dated to the 10th century mentions that after the Lord ascended to Heaven the regions in which the Apostles were supposed to preach the Gospel were drawn, with Andrew drawing the whole region of Bithynia, the areas around the Black Sea with the cities of Chalcedon and Byzantium and the Roman provinces of Macedonia, Thrace and Scythia. The Scythia mentioned in these historical sources is today’s Dobrogea and the neighboring regions. Folk songs in Dobrogea and local toponymy (the Saint Apostle Andrew cave or the Saint Andrew creek) come in support of the argument that Apostle Andrew preached the Gospel in the Black Sea regions of Dacia. Consequently, Saint Apostle Andrew ‘the first called’ was present on our country’s territory and has left us the heritage of the true teachings of the Son of God. When passing through these regions he appointed bishops and priests in the cities on the coast of the Black Sea, just like the other Apostles did during their missionary trips.

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