30 November 2007

St. Andrew's Martyrdom

On the occasion of St. Andrew's day, here is John Foxe's account of the Apostle's martyrdom:

Of Andrew the apostle and brother to Peter, thus writeth Jerome. “Andrew did preach, in the year fourscore of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Scythians and Sogdians, to the Sacae, and in a city which is called Sebastopolis, where the Ethiopians do now inhabit. He was buried in Patrae, a city of Achaia, being crucified by Aegeas, the governor of the Edessenes.” Bernard, and St. Cyprian, do make mention of the confession and martyrdom of this blessed Apostle; whereof partly out of these, partly out of other credible writers, we have collected after this manner: When Andrew, through his diligent preaching, had brought many to the faith of Christ, Aegeas the governor, knowing this, resorted to Patrae, to the intent he might constrain as many as did believe Christ to be God, by the whole consent of the senate, to do sacrifice unto the idols, and so give divine honours unto them. Andrew, thinking good at the beginning to resist the wicked counsel and the doings of Aegeas, went unto him, saying to this effect unto him: “that it behooved him who was judge of men, first to know his Judge which dwelleth in heaven, and then to worship Him being known; and so, in worshiping the true God, to revoke his mind from false gods and blind idols.” These words spake Andrew to the proconsul.

But Aegeas, greatly therewith discontented, demanded of him, whether he was the same Andrew that did overthrow the temple of the gods, and persuade men to be of that superstitious sect which the Romans of late had commanded to be abolished and rejected. Andrew did plainly affirm that the princes of the Romans did not understand the truth and that the Son of God, coming from heaven into the world for man’s sake, hath taught and declared how those idols, whom they so honoured as gods, were not only not gods, but also most cruel devils; enemies to mankind, teaching the people nothing else but that wherewith God is offended, and, being offended, turneth away and regardeth them not; and so by the wicked service of the devil, they do fall headlong into all wickedness, and, after their departing, nothing remaineth unto them, but their evil deeds.

But the proconsul charged and commanded Andrew not to teach and preach such things any more; or, if he did, he should be fastened to the cross with all speed.

Andrew, abiding in his former mind very constant, answered thus concerning the punishment which he threatened: “He would not have preached the honour and glory of the cross, if he had feared the death of the cross.” Whereupon sentence of condemnation was pronounced; that Andrew, teaching and enterprising a new sect, and taking away the religion of their gods, ought to be crucified. Andrew, going toward the place, and seeing afar off the cross prepared, did change neither countenance nor colour, neither did his blood shrink, neither did he fail in his speech, his body fainted not, neither was his mind molested, not did his understanding fail him, as it is the manner of men to do, but out of the abundance of his heart his mouth did speak, and fervent charity did appear in his words as kindled sparks; he said, “O cross, most welcome and long looked for! with [sic] a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to thee, being the scholar of Him which did hang on thee: because I have always been thy lover, and have coveted to embrace thee.”

(John Foxe (1516-1587), The Acts and Monuments, which from the date of publication in 1563 was popularly know[n] as The Book of Martyrs. Cited from For All the Saints: A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Volume III, pp. 1283-1285.)

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