Friday, November 17, 2006

The Skull of Saint Andrew I

DUQUESNOY, Francois (b. 1597, Bruxelles, d. 1643, Livorno) - St Andrew 1629-33 Marble, height: 450 cm Basilica of Saint Peter, Vatican
The years around 1630 saw the crystallization of the controversy of Baroque versus Classicism that was to continue to rage during most of the rest of the century. Pietro da Cortona led the Baroque faction with Bernini, while the painters Andrea Sacchi and Nicolas Poussin championed the classical cause together with the Flemish sculptor Duquesnoy, who lived in Rome during 1618-43.
Duquesnoy's figure of St Andrew stands in St Peter's opposite Bernini's St Longinus, its contemporary, and the comparison between the two is revealing. Both figures are unquestionably Baroque, but, in contrast to the dynamic composition of the Bernini, Duquesnoy' figure is absolutely static and posed.

A large part of Book 8 of the Commentaries is taken up with Pius`s account of the acquisition of a most precious relic: the skull of St Andrew.
For Pius it was obviously of great import and a matter of pride.
This is evident from reading the Commentaries, the ceremonies attending the delivery of the head into Rome, and the tombstone of Pius II (formerly in the Vatican and now in S Andrea della Valle in Rome).
For Pius, it had two main effects:
- to arouse the indignation of secular princes over the Turkish conquest of previously Christian lands and to secure their support in a crusade against the Turks and
- to both reclaim authority and stress the importance of the pope in Rome as the head of the respublica christiania

Who was St Andrew ?

St Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist and was the Apostle who was "first called" (Protokletos) of all the Apostles by Christ.
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when ‘…he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men’. At once they left the nets and followed him’ (Matt. 4:18-21).
In John’s Gospel we learn that John the Baptist ‘when he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”’ (John 1:36). .. ‘Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him “We have found the Messiah” (that is the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. (John 1 40-42).
Andrew was present during the Last Supper and in the garden at Gethsemane. He saw the risen Christ after the Resurrection, and received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
According to Tradition, Andrew left the Holy Land after Pentecost to spread the Word in Greece and Asia Minor. In 60AD, during the reign of Nero, he was working in Patras, where he baptised the wife and brother of the Governor, Aegeus. The Governor was so incensed by this, he ordered the death of the Apostle. Andrew was crucified on a cross in the shape of an X.

The Cult of St Andrew
In March 357, Emperor Constantine (son of Constantine The Great) ordered that the body of Saint Andrew be removed from Patras and be reinterred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. By tradition he had preached in Constantinople. Therefore, he became in death, as well as in life, the founder of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople. His relics in Constantinople lay along with the Apostle Luke and Timothy, the disciple of Paul, in the Church of the Apostles.
His relics were greatly venerated by Orthodox Christians.
St Andrew became the patron saint of Russia, Scotland and Rumania.

The relics of St Andrew: which ones ?

Until being removed in AD 357, the tomb of St Andrew in Patras was venerated as a great Christian shrine.
After being moved to Constantinople, there is a Scottish legend that a Greek Monk (although others describe him as an Irish assistant of St. Columba) called St. Rule (or St. Regulus) was warned in a dream that St. Andrews remains were to be moved and was directed by an angel to take those of the remains which he could to the "ends of the earth" for safe-keeping. St. Rule dutifully followed these directions, removing a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some fingers from St. Andrew's tomb and transporting these as far away as he could. Scotland was close to the extremities of the know world at that time and it was here that St. Rule was shipwrecked with his precious cargo.
Perhaps more likely than the tale of St. Rule's journey is that Acca, the Bishop of Hexham, who was a reknown collector of relics, brought the relics of St. Andrew to St. Andrews in 733. There certainly seems to have been a religious centre at St. Andrews at that time, either founded by St. Rule in the 6th century or by a Pictish King, Ungus, who reigned from 731 - 761.
There was cetainly a major shrine to St Andrew at St Andrews and this Scottish association led to St Andrew being declared the patron Saint of Scotland. These relics were lost in the Scottish Reformation.
The larger part of St. Andrew's remains were apparently stolen from Constantinople in 1210 and these were transported to Amalfi in Southern Italy where they still lie. In 1879 the Archbishop of Amalfi sent a small piece of the Saint's shoulder blade from the Amalfi relics to the re-established Roman Catholic community in Scotland.
However the head of St Andrew was in Patras.
When the Turks invaded the Pelopennese seven years after the Fall of Constantinople, the deposed Greek emperor's youngest brother, Thomas Palaeologus, Despot of Morea, fled his principality and sought refuge in Western Europe. Before he did so, he took the head of St Andrew from Patras. It was this skull which Pius acquired from Thomas Paleologus.

[To complete the tale of the travels of the relics to date:

In 1967, under the orders of Pope Paul VI, the skull was returned to Patras.
However, a relic of St Andrew was given by Pope Paul VI to the newly created Scottish Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray, in St Peter’s Rome, in 1969, with the words ‘Peter greets his brother Andrew’. Cardinal Gray was the first Scottish Cardinal in four hundred years.
The two relics of St Andrew (one from Amalfi and one from Rome) are exhibited in The National Shrine of Saint Andrew, St Mary's RC Cathedral, Edinburgh.
Relics of St Andrew are still in Amalfi and Patras.]