Monday, June 15, 2009
St Andrew the Fool-for-Christ - October 15th (Oct.2nd old calendar)
A rich man named Theognostus, was serving as a bodyguard in Constantinople under the Emperor Leo the Great (886-912). Among his slaves there was Andrew, a Slav by birth. He was a calm and kindhearted young man. Theognostus 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. 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 of fool-for-Christ, that is he started acting as if he was insane.
Acting insane, Andrew was brought to the Saint Anastasia church to be taken care of. Saint martyr Anastasia appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to continue his ascetic feat. So Andrew was faking 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 hungry 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 and was praying for those who hurt him.
Yet, it was not always that Andrew pretended to be insane; talking to his spiritual father or to his disciple - a wealthy young man Epiphanus - Saint Andrew would remove the mask of folly, and then his holy wisdom and extraordinary spiritual beauty would be revealed. For the life of deepest humbleness and spiritual purity, God endowed Saint Andrew with the gifts of discernment and prophecy. Epiphanus learned a lot from his saint fool-for-Christ teacher who also predicted that with time Epiphanus would become an Archbishop and a famous preacher. The prophecy came true.
Once Saint Andrew, like the Supreme Apostle Paul, was taken to the third Sky and heard the unspoken words there that cannot be heard by people (1Cor. 2:9). There he had the honor of seeing Lord Jesus Christ himself, angels and many Holy Saints, yet he was surprised not to see the Most Holy Virgin. He asked where She was and they told him that She went down to the world of many sufferings to help people and to console those in sorrow.
Some time later Saint Andrew was also blessed with the vision of Most Holy Theotokos in the Vlahern church of Constantinople. This significant event of Her appearance is commemorated during the feast of the Protection of Holy Theotokos. When Saint Andrew and Epiphanus were praying in church, 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 homophor 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 awed" - said Epiphanus.
Andrew, the fool-for-Christ, went into rest at the age of 66 in the year 936. His life was described by the presbyter of Saint Sofia church, who was a spiritual father to Saint Andrew and his disciple Epiphanus.
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