Saint Andrew the Jerusalemite Archbishop of Crete
Date of celebration: 04/07
“Seek the spiritual things” (I Corinthians, n. 1). Zealously desire spiritual gifts. Saint Andrew had such zeal throughout his life.
Among the great ecclesiastical poets, Andreas was born in Damascus to pious parents, George and Gregory. At the age of 15, he was assigned to the clergy (reader) of the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem, by the then Patriarch Theodoros. In Jerusalem, Andreas was distinguished for his education and virtue among the Holy Sepulcher fathers, which is why they chose him to be sent to Constantinople, for the sixth Ecumenical Council against the Monophysites.
After the end of the Synod, Andreas remained in the reigning city, where he was ordained a deacon and appointed director of the “Agios Pavlos” orphanage.
The excellent diligence that he developed in this charitable institution made him the archbishop of Crete. Devoted to the duties of his new position, he emerged as a great ecclesiastical administrator, as well as a brilliant teacher and orator. That is why all his flock really considered him a father.
But as a metropolitan he took part in the synod convened by Philippicus Vardanis (712 AD) and supported Monophysitism, but returned to the orthodox faith after the death of Vardanis.
On the way back from Constantinople, where he had gone on various business, he died (740 AD) on the ship. He was buried in Eresos of Mytilene, in the church of Agia Anastasia.
We should also note that Saint Andreas was the best orator of his time, with works where he develops a rich discourse, with rhetorical figures of unparalleled beauty. He was the first to present a complete system of celebratory speeches, of which about 30 have survived, published and anecdotal. He wrote several eulogies and speeches. About 100 Rules and numerous idiosyncratic tropes survive. As a melodist, he wrote not only the texts but also their music.
The Megas Kanon, which is sung on Thursday of the 5th week of Lent of M. Tessarakosti, is the most original and extensive hymnographic work of Andreas of Crete. It is possible that the Great Canon was written in Constantinople or at the place of his death, Eresos on Lesvos, in old age.
It consists of 261 tropes, of which 11 are Eirmi. It was called Megas because of its extent and consists of 9 odes. The number of tropes varies in the various manuscripts. In his latest edition (Migne), which uses the Triodium in use of the Church, the number of tropes by odes is as follows: a΄ 25, b΄ 29+12, c΄ 9+19, d΄ 29, e΄ 23, f’ 17+16, g’ 22, h’ 22, i’ 27. The rhyme, although not systematic, is frequent: I heard your voice / I heard your writing. / The body collapsed. / The spirit was crushed. – Don’t oversell me. – Don’t freak me out. The similes are abundant, and the cosmetic adjectives are very impressive, many times with neologisms, such as filidonos ormi, patrothos David, sensible Eve, protokistoston kallos. The language of the Great Canon is the common parlance of the time.
The Great Canon is a deeply absorbing text, full of power and images, which are characterized by intense dramatic elements with the parallel use of examples from the Holy Bible.
From the internal elements of the Great Canon we can distinguish, the sinful state of man, the end of his tendency towards moral collapse, the consciousness of his sin, his repentance, the certainty of his salvation.
It is chanted in its entirety on the eve of Thursday of the 6th week of Lent, divided into four sections, and during the first four days of the clean week.