Andrew the Apostle (from the early 1st century – mid to late 1st century)
We begin our week with the feast of one of the lesser known of the popular Apostles. Andrew was the brother of Peter and was the first called of the Apostles, it is widely believed that he was a disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew was at many of the events of the Gospels but disappears later on in the New Testament. Many history of the Church write that Andrew preached all over from Scythia to Kiev to Novgord and according to tradition he founded the see of Constantinople. According to tradition Andrew was also crucified but he felt he was unworthy to be crucified upon a cross like Christ so Andrew was crucified upon an X-shaped Cross. The Ecumenical Patriarch is according to Orthodox belief the spiritual successor of Andrew. Over the years the Pope has met with the Ecumenical Patriarch on the Feast of St. Andrew. Most recently Pope Francis is in Turkey and he asked Patriarch Bartholomew “to bless me and the Church of Rome” This was followed by the Patriarch blessed and kissed the Holy Father upon his head. This has been seen by some as results of the latest ecumenical efforts between the churches.
Barbara or the Great Martyr Barbara, (c. 3rd century)
Barbara dates to the third century but there is no reference to her in the early Christian writings, and hagiographies however devotion to her dates back to the 7th century and veneration in the East have been popular since the 9th century. According to the hagiographies about her Barbara was the daughter of a rich pagan who had her locked up in a tower. Her father went away on a journey she had three windows installed (this symbolized the Trinity). When he returned he was furious and came up to kill his daughter, but her prayers were answered and Barbara was transported to a mountain gorge where two shepherds were watching their flocks. Barbara’s father was in hot pursuit and one shepherd said nothing but the other gave her up, but this shepherd turned to stone and his flock turned into locusts. Barbara was brought before the prefect of the province and was tortured, however every night Barbara would be healed from whatever had taken place during the previous day. Finally she was sentenced to death, and was beheaded by her father. He didn’t last very long while walking home he was struck by lighting and burst into flames. Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
Sabbas the Sanctified (439–5 December 532)
Sabbase was the founder of several monasteries, notably Mar Saba, and his name is derived from Aramaic and means “old man”. Sabbas was born in Cappadocia and I would say really didn’t know his family as his father was a commander in the army. His father and mother went to Alexandria and Sabbas was left in the care of an uncle. At the age of eight Sabbas joined the nearby monastery, it is here where he learned to read and became an expert of the Bible. His parents would come and tried in vain to get Sabbas to return to secular life to get married. At 17, Sabbas was tonsured and left for Jerusalem where he lived a cenobitic life until he was 30 at which time the Abbot had died and he began the process of becoming a hermit. While he tried to he a hermit many people followed him and communities popped up and Sabbas would “found” these communities. Later on he would be ordained a priest and be named archimandrite, the arch abbot, for all the monasteries in most of what is today Israel. Sabbas also wrote the monastic typikon which is half of basis of the Byzantine Rite that is used today.