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Jul 4 – St Andrew of Crete (660-740) archbishop and writer of hymns

04 July, 2012

St Andrew of Crete is recognised as theologian, homilist, and hymnographer. The image shows an icon of St Andrew with St Mary of Egypt (See 9th April). Patrick Duffy tells what is known about St Andrew. Early life Born into a believing Christian family at Damascus, Andrew did not speak till the age of seven, when his […]

Andrew_of_CreteSt Andrew of Crete is recognised as theologian, homilist, and hymnographer. The image shows an icon of St Andrew with St Mary of Egypt (See 9th April). Patrick Duffy tells what is known about St Andrew.

Early life
Born into a believing Christian family at Damascus, Andrew did not speak till the age of seven, when his parents took him to church and he received Communion. At the age of fifteen he went to Jerusalem, entered the monastery of St Sabba, and for a while when he was aged twenty worked as secretary for Theodore, Bishop of Jerusalem.

Archbishop of Gortyna in Crete
In 681 Theodore sent Andrew as his representative to the Sixth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, where he spoke out against monothelitism, but later for a short time in a smaller council is said to have retracted that opposition. At Constantinople he impressed the Emperor and was appointed archdeacon at the Church of Hagia Sophia. Later he was appointed archbishop of Gortyna in Crete. As archbishop there he was loved by the people.

St. Andrew of Crete, or St. Mary of Egypt, one of the greatest models of repentance in Christian history.

St. Andrew of Crete, or St. Mary of Egypt, one of the greatest models of repentance in Christian history.

Writer of hymns and sermons
Andrew is renowned as a writer of sermons and of many liturgical hymns and was the originator of a new liturgical form, a type of longish hymn called the canon, which later became shortened and was called the kontakion. Andrew is best known for the Great Canon of Repentance. Many of his sermons are contained in the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Intercessions
Intercessory prayers in some Eastern litanies, especially those with a repentance theme, are often addressed to St Andrew of Crete, such as:

  • By thy prayers, O Andrew, deliver us from degrading passions, and make us who with faith and love sing of thee partakers now of the Kingdom of Christ, O renowned father, we pray.
  • Let us see, let us see, O soul, our Lord and God’s love for men. So before the end let us fall down before Him with tears and cry: By the prayers of Andrew, O Savior, have mercy on us.
  • By thy prayers grant me release from my debts, O Andrew, prelate of Crete, for thou art an unsurpassed guide to the mysteries of repentance.