This novena is called the St. Andrew novena because it is begun on the feast of St. Andrew, on November 30. It is also referred to as the Christmas Anticipation Novena since it is intended to assist us in meditating on the true meaning of Christmas. This novena is meant to be prayed from November 30th to December 24th. (See end of article for the prayers)
St. Andrew was a native of Bethsaida in Galilee, a fisherman by trade, and a former disciple of John the Baptist. He introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus, saying, "We have found the Messiah." Overshadowed henceforth by his brother, Andrew nevertheless appears again in the Gospels introducing souls to Christ. After Pentecost, Andrew took up the apostolate on a much wider scale, and is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the form of an "X". This type of cross has long been known as "St. Andrew's cross."
When Andrew was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from a distance he cried out: "O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul, I, confident and rejoicing, come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you." Forthwith he was nailed to the cross. For two days he hung there alive, unceasingly proclaiming the doctrine of Christ until he passed on to Him whose likeness in death he had so vehemently desired.
Patron of: Achaia; Amalfi, Italy; Anglers; Burgundy; diocese of Constantinople; fish mongers; fishermen; those with gout; Greece; Germany; maidens; old maids; Patras, Greece; Russia; Scotland; singers; sore throats; University of Patras; women who wish to become mothers.
Symbols: Fish; Saint Andrew's cross; Cross saltire (X-shaped); V or Y shaped cross; two fishes; tall cross and book; vertical spear; primitive fish hook; fisherman's net.
Often Portrayed As: Man bound to a cross; man preaching from a cross; preacher holding fish.
Things to Do:
Today's feast traditionally marks the end of the Church year and beginning of Advent. Advent always begins on the Sunday closest to November 30, with this day being the last possible day of the old Liturgical Year. Christmas is right around the corner. An old saying reflected this:
St. Andrew the King
Three weeks and three days
before Christmas begins.
Because weddings were not allowed during Advent and Christmas and Andrew is the patron of unmarried maidens, many countries have marriage-related superstitions connected to this day. See Patron Saints Index for a few traditions.
- Beginning today the Christmas Anticipatory Prayer, also known as the "Novena to St. Andrew" (Hail and Blessed be the hour...) is prayed every day until Christmas.
- View some of the art depictions: Gallery of Images of Andrew.
- Remember to pray for fishermen and all who make their livelihood by the sea.
- Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, and Romania. The flag of Scotland (and the Union Flag and the arms and Flag of Nova Scotia) feature a saltire (X-shaped cross) in commemoration of the shape of St. Andrew's cross.
- Read more about St. Andrew from Butler's Lives of the Saints. Also read about Andrew from The Golden Legend.
Foods connected with this feast: St. Andrew was a fisherman, so fish dishes and biblical themes would reign supreme. Women for Faith and Family have reprinted Evelyn Vitz's suggested "Biblical Dinner" menu. But there are other foods connected with this day:
- Scotland: St. Andrew is the patron of Scotland. Scones, haggis, sheepshead and fish dishes are traditional. The scones are called "wigs", although their shape is rectangular.
- England: St Andrew is a patron of lace-makers. On his feast, sometimes known as "Tander", areas such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire celebrate by feasting, drinking elderberry wine, sports and serving a special cake called the Tandra Cake, particularly in Bedfordshire. It has a bread dough base to which lard, sugar, currants, lemon peel and eggs are added. This is also a day for squirrel hunting in England, so Brunswick Stew would be another dish on the table in England.
- Slovakian Countries: Halushky (pasta dish) is cooked. Unmarried girls place slips of paper with names of single young men into the dish.
St. Andrew’s Novena Prayer:
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires.
(Mention your intentions here)
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.
Traditionally, this prayer is prayed 15 times each day for the duration of the Novena.
St. Andrew, pray for us!