St Andrew - Apostle, Martyr


Today is the Feast of St Andrew who, as an Apostle, is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the  Mass. Before he was called to follow Christ he was a follower of John the Baptist and like him, he is depicted with unkempt hair.

Here are two more icons that caught my eye. The second of the two was painted by Sr Petra Clare and it hangs in Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland. I remember seeing it many times when I visited.

The cross upon which he was martyred, during the persecution of Nero, is a characteristic X shape. As someone from the British Isles, I am well aware of this because he is the patron saint of Scotland and the Scottish flag depicts it symbolically. This was incorporated into the Union Jack sometime after the formal union of the two countries in the 18th century.

The martyrdom itself is depicted in Western portrayals of the saint. For example here is one by Rubens in characteristically dramatic style. In accordance with tradition he is shown bound, not nailed, to the cross:

Andrew was the brother of St Peter and the portrayal of the calling of the two as fishermen who will become 'fishers of men' is another common scene in Western portrayals.

Here is Duccio's painting... early mosaic from Ravenna (note how Christ is beardless)...

I do not know who the figure in the toga is on the right. Below is a baroque painting of the same scene.

This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon - Eucharistic Prayer I - and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.University.