St. Andrew. The Story of Scotland’s Patron Saint.
Saint Andrew’s day is celebrated on November 30th it is a day to celebrate Scottish music, food and dance. But who was St. Andrew? Not only is he the patron saint of Scotland. He is also the patron saint of spinsters, sore throats, singers, maidens, fishmongers, women wanting to be mothers, and finally, gout. But how does a man who never set foot in Scotland, become so special and treasured by the Scots so much that he gets his own day?
Who was St. Andrew?
Saint Andrew was a simple fisherman but also Jesus’ first disciple (Scotland is actually one of the few countries to have one of Jesus’ disciples at their patron saint.) He and his brother (Saint) Peter were born in a small Galilean fishing village which is where they met Jesus. However, Andrew didn’t become acquainted with Jesus until he started to follow him home and when Jesus asked “Why are you following me?” Andrew replied by telling Jesus he wished to know where it was that he lived, to which Jesus replied “Come and see”. How times have changed.
Andrew was never overly close to Jesus, which may or may not be to do with the incident regarding his house. While he was always considered one of the main disciples and was in the ‘top four’, John and Mark and his brother Peter were said to have been giving special access to Jesus on some occasions.
What did he do that made him so special?
Once Jesus had died, Andrew carried on preaching the religion of Christianity across European countries such as Poland, Russia and Greece. It was in Greece where his was crucified on an x-shaped cross. He refused to be crucified on a vertical cross as he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus. The ‘X’ is also known as a Saltire which is now the symbol used by Scotland on their flag.
Some time passed.
A monk named Regulus (or Rule) was watching over the bones of Saint Andrew when an angel appeared to him and instructed him to take the remains far west. The journey proved arduous and Regulus was shipwrecked on the east coast of Scotland (where is now the town of St. Andrews).
Andrew was only recognised as the official patron saint of Scotland in the year 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, a declaration of Scottish independence from England in the form of a letter to Pope John XXII. Scotland have always had some leverage with the church as Andrews’s brother Peter founded it.
St Andrews burgh became a popular pilgrimage site in medieval times due to the presence of Andrew’s relics in Scotland. These included a kneecap, arm bones, and a tooth. However, they were all destroyed during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. Consequently, the Archbishop of Amalfi gave Andrew’s shoulder blade to St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh In 1879 and further relics were donated by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
Where did he do it?
While it is not certain where Andrew actually preached. A few places have been mentioned with some sort of confidence, those being Scythia, Thrace and Asia Minor. Andrew appears to have travelled great distances in order to spread the word of Jesus and his faith of Christianity. He may have actually travelled to Scotland on these journeys of preachment. However, the tale of Regulus is more widely believed to be the true reason of Saint Andrew’s presence in Scotland.
Why did he do it?
Like all of Jesus’ disciples, he believed in the teachings and practiced the faith. However, why he travelled far and wide spreading the word is unknown. Perhaps he felt some responsibility being the first disciple. Perhaps he felt guilty for following him home. But what is known, is that St. Andrew was dedicated and felt some bond between himself and Jesus and it is believed that Jesus granted his ability to perform miracles unto Andrew so he could carry on transforming the lives of those he met.
Now you know all about St. Andrew and why he is the patron saint of Scotland. So go out, drink whiskey, go dancing. However, don’t follow someone home in the hopes it’ll lead to you becoming a saint. Or getting a day dedicated to your honor. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Latha Naomh Anndra math dhuibh (Happy St. Andrews day).