Andrew was an officer, a tribune, in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Maximian. He was a Syrian by birth, and served in Syria. When the Persians menaced the Roman Empire with their military, Andrew was entrusted to command the imperial army in defense against the enemy. Therefore, Andrew was promoted to the rank of general – “Stratelates.” Secretly a Christian, even though he was not baptized, Andrew trusted in the Living God and chose only the best of the many soldiers to enter into battle. Before the battle, he told his soldiers that if they would call upon the help on the one, true God – Christ the Lord – their enemies would scatter as dust before them. Truly, all the soldiers were filled with zeal for Andrew and his faith, and invoked Christ for assistance; then they made the assault. The Persian army was utterly destroyed. When the victorious Andrew returned to Antioch envious men accused Andrew of being a Christian, and the imperial deputy summoned him to court. Andrew openly confessed his unwavering faith in Christ. After bitterly torturing him, the deputy threw Andrew into prison and wrote to the emperor in Rome. Knowing the respect in which the people and the army held Andrew, the emperor ordered the deputy to free Andrew, and to seek another opportunity and reason to kill him. Through God’s revelation Andrew learned of the emperor’s command, and, taking with him his faithful soldiers, 2,593 in number, he departed to Tarsus in Cilicia, where all were baptized by Bishop Peter. Persecuted even there by the imperial authorities, Andrew and his detachment withdrew further into Armenian Mount Taurus. The Roman army caught up with them there while they were at prayer in a ravine, and all of them were beheaded. None of them tried to defend themselves, but all were desirous of a martyr’s death for Christ. On this spot, where the stream of the martyr’s blood flawed, a spring of healing water burst forth, which cured many people of every disease. Bishop Peter secretly brought his people and honorably buried the bodies of the martyrs where they had been slain. Dying honorably, they were all crowned with wreaths of glory and took up their habitation in the Kingdom of Christ our Lord.
Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume Two.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.