November 30 is the Feast Day of St. Andrew the Apostle, younger brother of St. Peter and martyr of the Church. From the Gospels we know that Andrew was a follower of St. John the Baptist and it was he who led his brother Peter to Christ, telling him, “We have found the Messiah!”(John 1:41).
Tradition tells us that St. Andrew evangelized Turkey, the fringes of Russia, Malta, Cyrpus, Greece and other lands. He was crucified in Patras, Achaia (in Greece) on an x-shaped cross and bound not nailed to it so as to suffer more. His relics (including a finger, part of the skull and his cross) were returned to the Greek Orthodox Church in Patras by the Catholic Church in 1964 and 1980. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland.
Something new to me is that this is also the day to start the traditional novena prayer to St. Andrew, also known as the Christmas Anticipation Novena or the Christmas Novena. Unlike the typical 9-day novena, this one runs through Christmas Eve. I don’t know the origin of the prayer but it appears to be popular and powerful. The faithful are asked to recite it 15 times a day (all at once or throughout the day as you see fit!). It is a beautiful meditation focusing us on the real meaning of Christmas. Here it is:
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayers and grant my desires (mention your request), through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.