May 28, 2021

Synaxarion of Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ


On the 28th of this month [May], we commemorate our Venerable and God-bearing Father Andrew the Fool for Christ.


The saying of Paul was introduced by Andrew,
"We are fools for Christ" he cried.
On the twenty-eighth Andrew died with a prudent mind.

A rich man named Theognostos was serving as a bodyguard in Constantinople under the Emperor Leo the Great (886-912). Among his slaves there was Andrew, a Scythian by birth. He was a calm and kindhearted young man. Theognostos liked him and took care of his education. Andrew frequented the church of God, studied the Scriptures diligently and liked to read the lives of Saints, drawing inspiration especially from the Holy Martyrs. Gradually the desire to devote himself totally to God grew stronger in him and following a sign from above he took upon himself a very difficult and unusual ascetic feat - foolishness for the sake of Christ - that is, he started acting as if he was insane. His zeal often pushed him to endure mockery, humiliation and heavy insults and to take actions that are judged to be unbalanced and eccentric. But he endured the humiliations, comforted by the fact that many times he managed to bring people who were astray to the straight path.

Acting insane, Andrew was brought to the Church of Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolytria, where the insane and possessed were brought to stay for a period of time in order to be miraculously delivered. Saint Anastasia appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to continue his ascetic feat. So Andrew faked his madness to the extent that he was regarded hopelessly insane and they drove him away from the territory of the church. After that Saint Andrew lived in the streets of the capital going around homeless and half-naked. Most people shunned him, some would mock and beat him up. Even the beggars to whom he gave his last coins would despise him. But Saint Andrew endured all his sufferings humbly, "for the sake of Christ."

Yet Andrew did not always pretend to be insane; talking to his spiritual father or to his disciple - a wealthy young man named Epiphanios - Saint Andrew would remove the mask of folly, and then his divine wisdom and extraordinary spiritual beauty would be revealed. For a life of the deepest humility and spiritual purity, God endowed Saint Andrew with the gifts of discernment and prophecy. Epiphanios learned a lot from his teacher who also predicted that with time Epiphanios would become an Archbishop and a famous preacher. The prophecy came true.

Saint Andrew was found worthy of a vision of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae of Constantinople. This significant event of her appearance is commemorated during the feast of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos in October. During an all-night vigil Saint Andrew and Epiphanios were praying in the church, when all of a sudden the dome of the church seemed to be opened and Saint Andrew saw the Holy Virgin surrounded by many angels and saints. She was praying and extending her veil over those in prayer. "Do you see the Sovereign Lady of all?" Andrew asked his disciple as if he could not believe his eyes. "I do, holy father and I am in awe," said Epiphanios.

Andrew the Fool for Christ reposed at the age of 66 in the year 936. Immediately the scent of myrrh emitted from his body as his spirit departed. A poor woman who lived nearby smelled the beautiful and incomparable fragrance, so she followed the scent and arrived at the place where the dead body of the Saint was, with myrrh flowing from it. She ran and proclaimed the miracle. Many gathered then, but did not find the holy relic of the Saint. They were amazed, however, by the fragrance of myrrh.

Saint Andrew's biographer is said to be his spiritual father, Nikephoros, a priest of Hagia Sophia, who authored his life as if he lived in the fifth century, which was a common method of hagiographic and apocalyptic writing at the time, though making it difficult to distinguish between truth and fiction. The disciple Epiphanios many scholars agree to be Saint Polyeuktos (Feb. 5), Patriarch of Constantinople from 956-970.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst choose foolishness for the sake of Christ and didst make the crafty one foolish. Thou didst persevere with thy struggle in the midst of turmoil, and Christ has brought thee to Paradise. Intercede with Him, O Andrew for those who honor thee.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Thou didst finish thy life in piety, O godly-minded Andrew, thou wast a pure vessel of the Trinity and a companion of the Angels. May peace and forgiveness be granted, through thine intercession, to those who honor thee.