Andrew the Fool-for-Christ

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Blessed Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was a 10th century fool-for-Christ, famed for his vision of the Protection of the Mother of God. He is commemorated by the Church on October 2.


He was born a Scythian and came to live in Constantinople as the slave of Theognostus, a protospatharios ("first sword-bearer," an honorific title) to Emperor Leo VI the Great (886-912). He was also the spiritual child of Nicephorus, a priest at Hagia Sophia during that time.

Blessed Andrew loved God's Church and the Holy Scriptures, and he had a strong desire to devote himself totally to God. He took upon himself a very difficult and unusual ascetic feat of fool-for-Christ; that is, he acted as if he were insane.

Seeming to be insane, Andrew was brought to the Church of St. Anastasia for his care. There St. Anastasia appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to continue his ascetic feat. He was driven off the church property because of his faked madness and had to live on the streets of the capital city, hungry and half-naked. For many years the saint endured mockery, insults, and beatings. He begged for alms and gave them away to the poor. The beggars to whom he gave his last coins despised him, but Andrew endured all his sufferings humbly and prayed for those who hurt him.

St. Andrew's holy wisdom and extraordinary spiritual beauty were revealed when he removed his mask of folly. This occurred when talking to his spiritual father, a presbyter of Hagia Sophia, or to his disciple Epiphanius.

For his meekness and self-control, the saint received from the Lord the gifts of prophecy and wisdom, saving many from spiritual perils. Like the apostle Paul, he was taken to the third sky and 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.

While praying at the Blachernae church, it was St. Andrew who, with his disciple, the Blessed Epiphanius, saw the Most Holy Mother of God, holding her veil over those praying under her Protection. The synaxarion states that upon seeing this vision, St. Andrew turned to his companion and asked, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?" Epiphanius answered, "I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe."

Blessed Andrew died in the year 936 at the age of 66.

The Revelations of Andrew

An intriguing part of the Life of St. Andrew, written by a certain "Nicephorus in Constantinople" in the tenth century, is the section when Andrew is answering a question made by his disciple Epiphanius on "when and how this world will come to an an end."

During the Byzantine era, a number of writings appeared predicting the Apocalypse to be marked by the fall of Constantinople. While they were repeated in the 14th and 15th centuries, their origins are most likely in the 10th, whilst the Eastern Roman Empire was still strong. Constantinople's destruction is described along these lines in the Life of Andrew the Fool.

The text claims that Hagia Sophia would survive a great flood by "floating over waters," but St. Andrew explains instead that only the column (the obelisk) would survive because beneath its foundations are the Holy Nails which were used to crucify Jesus Christ. In this work, Andrew is depicted as predicting that the world's end would fall shortly after Constantinople's fall; in those times "shortly" could be a period of 100 to up to 1,000 years.

A few of the oldest manuscripts, dating from the 14th-century or earlier, containing this information include:

  • Vindobonesis hist. gr. 123, s. XIV, fols. 84-90
  • Vaticanus gr. 1574, s.XI-XII, fols. 147-59
  • Atheniensis 1014, a 1071, fols. 93-104


Troparion (Tone 4) [1]

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.

Another Troparion (Tone 1) [2]

For thy sake, O Christ, thy servant Andrew became a fool on earth.
He heard the Apostle Paul proclaiming,
'We are fools for the sake of Christ.'
As we now honor his memory we pray thee to save our souls.

Kontakion (Tone 1) [3]

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.

Another Kontakion (Tone 4) [4]

Of thine own free will thou didst become a Fool, O Andrew,
And utterly hate the lures of this world.
Thou didst deaden carnal wisdom through hunger and thirst,
Through heat and bitter frost.
By never avoiding the hardships of weather thou didst purify thyself as gold in the furnace.

See also

  • Epiphanius, who many scholars agree to be St. Polyeuctus (February 5), Patriarch of Constantinople from 956-970.

External links