A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
St Andrew’s Day (Andrew the Apostle, The Strong, Ἀνδρέας, Andreas, ܐܢܕܪܐܘܣ, The First-Called, Πρωτόκλητος) (c8-c60). Lutheran Lesser Festival and Roman Catholic Feast Day for the Christian Apostle born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee during the early First Century. He was the elder fisherman brother of St Peter (Simon Peter), both being asked by Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to become Disciples and fishers of men. Andrew may have already been a disciple of John the Baptist, who stated of Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Andrew was one of the closest Disciples to Jesus and told Him about the boy with the loaves and fishes. When Philip wanted to speak to Jesus about Greeks seeking him, he spoke to Andrew first, and Andrew was present at the Last Supper. Christian tradition has Andrew as a missionary preaching the Good News on the shores of the Black Sea and throughout what are now Greece and Turkey, before being martyred by crucifixion in Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, Greece in the mid- to late-First Century. He was bound, rather than nailed, to an X-shaped cross (saltire, crux decussata), commonly referred to as a St Andrew’s Cross, which he requested as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus. Andrew’s remains were originally preserved at Patras but many were transferred to Constantinople around 357 and some may have been taken to the ends of the earth on the coast of Fife, Scotland. Claims are made by Amalfi Cathedral (Duomo di Sant ‘Andréa) and Sarzana Cathedral in Italy, also St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh and the Church of St Andrew and St Albert in Warsaw. There are numerous smaller reliquaries throughout the world. The skull was translated to Patras from Constantinople in the late Eighth Century and the remains that had been taken to the Vatican City were sent back to the Basilica of Saint Andrew in Patras in 1964, the cross on which he was martyred still being kept there. His saltire is featured on the flag of Scotland, where this is a local Bank Holiday. Andrew is represented in much iconography as an old man with long white hair and a beard, often holding the Gospel book or a scroll. He is venerated in Georgia as the first preacher of Christianity in that territory and in Cyprus for having struck the rocks to create a great gush of healing waters when landing there. According to Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople. His cult was universal by the Sixth Century and the 674 Hagustaldes ham (Hexham Abbey) and the 877 Cennrigmonaid monastery (St Andrews) were both dedicated to him. The Qur’anic account of the disciples of Jesus does not include their names, numbers or any detailed accounts of their lives but Muslim exegesis agrees with the New Testament list and says that the disciples included Andrew. Patron saint of fishermen, singers and several countries and cities including Scotland since the Eighth Century, Barbados, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine, Greece and Patras. An old Swedish proverb predicts mild and rainy St Andrew’s days meaning cold Christmas periods, and vice versa. Image: facebook.com.
Krishna Ekadashi. To 1 December, fasting day devoted to Goddess Ekadashi, who pleased Vishnu and was named by Him. Observed on every 11 Tithi (तिथि, day in the lunar fortnight) in the Hindu calendar. There are therefore two Ekadashi fasting days in a month, one during the Krishna Paksha waning fortnight and another during the Shukla Paksha waxing lunar fortnight. Devotees of Lord Vishnu observe Ekadashi fasting to seek His blessings and the fasting spans three days. They take a single meal on the afternoon of the day before the fasting day to ensure no residual food in the stomach the next day. They then keep a strict fast on Ekadashi day and break the fast on the next day only after sunrise. The eating of all types of grains and cereals is prohibited and devotees can choose to observe fasting without water, with only water, with only fruits or with a single food, according to their willpower. However, this should be decided before starting the fast. At times, Ekadashi fasting is suggested on two consecutive days for staunch devotees who seek the love and affection of Lord Vishnu. Image: happywishes20.com.
Nostra Signora dei Genesta (Madonna di Genesta, Genova, Our Lady of Genesta, Mater boni consilii). A poor woman is said to have undertaken to build as church near Genoa without laying the first stone, assuring everyone that she would not die before the Blessed Virgin and St Augustine finished the work, the church being said to have been duly found miraculously completed a short time afterwards. However, there is no shrine of Our Lady of Genesta or city in Italy named Genesta, although it might have been a town later absorbed into Genoa or one that no longer exists. There was certainly in 1436 a rich woman near Rome associated with Our Lady of Genazzano, a Third Order Augustinian intent on restoring a Thirteenth-Century church under the care of the hermits of St Augustine there and where she spent much of her time in prayer. Although she did not have all the money to complete the work, she trusted that others would come forward to finish what was left when her money ran out. The first part of the construction of an over-grand new church began and people insulted her for wasting her money, to which she replied: “My dear children, do not put too much importance on this apparent misfortune. I assure you that before my death the Blessed Virgin and our holy father Augustine will finish the church begun by me. In 1467, a crowd began to gather in front of the unfinished church of Our Mother of Good Counsel at Genazzano when the chords of a beautiful melody could be heard, a melody that seemed to come from a luminous cloud coming down upon the church. The cloud stopped against one wall when the bells of the church began to ring by themselves, with all the other the bells around the town. When the cloud dispersed, a beautiful image was revealed to the faithful, with Our Lady tenderly holding her Divine Son in her arms and hovering in the air, not attached to the wall where the image is now seen at Genazzano and where the Feast Day is 26 April. Measuring forty by forty-five centimetres, the image is a fresco executed on a thin layer of plaster no thicker than an eggshell. Over the centuries, devotions to Our Lady of the Good Counsel grew among saints and Popes, to the extent that a reference was added to the 1587 Marian Litany of Loreto as the devotion spread throughout the world. The miracles and wonders occurring before the image of the Virgin Mary and the fame of the miraculous cures attracted crowds of pilgrims. Visitors gladly gave alms for the completion of the church, validating the confidence placed in the Blessed Virgin. The marvel was later explained by two foreigners coming to the city in strange clothing, speaking a strange tongue, saying they had followed the cloud from Albania, walking upon the waters of the sea, when the image had departed their homeland before a Turkish invasion. Patroness of Albania, Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver, Augustinian Province of Midwest USA, Parañaque City, The Philippines, Mother of Good Counsel Minor Seminary. Image: roman-catholic-saints.com.