Wednesday, November 29, 2006

St Andrew's day

Today is St Andrew's day here in Scotland. As yet it is not a special holiday but the Scottish Parlimant are working on it!

Who is St Andrew?
St Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland, but who was he?
The story of St. Andrew is a complex one, with different versions and interpretations. It is now impossible to know what is the "true" story.

St Andrew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples and he lived and worked as a fisherman in Galilee. He was the brother of Peter, another of Christ's disciples.

After Christ's crucifixion, one version of the legend is that Andrew went to Greece to preach Christianity, where he was crucified for his beliefs at a place called Patras, on a cross in the form of an X. However, the X-shaped cross played little part in early legends of St. Andrew and indeed in early versions of the tale, Andrew was nailed to an olive tree, not a cross.

Another version of the story of St. Andrew has it that he preached in the area around the Black Sea.

It was very important in the early days of Christianity that the bones of saints, and other articles that had been closely associated with them, should be preserved. This helped people to understand that Saints were real people, no matter how extraordinary their lives had been. These objects were known as relics and often the relics of the saints would be split up and parts given to different churches.

One legend says that a man who later became St. Regulus (or Rule) carried the bones of St. Andrew to Scotland. His ship was wrecked on the Fife coast, and the spot at which the ship landed became the site of the town of St. Andrews. A cathedral was built there which was started in 1160 and took 158 years to build (the ruins can still be seen today) and the town became an important site of Christian pilgrimage.

Another legend has it that two monks from the North of England went to Rome and brought back the relics of St. Andrew. One of the monks passed the relics on to the reigning king in Scotland at the time - Angus McFergus who became king in 731.

The Saltire arriving at Murrayfield prior to the Scotland V Barbarians game earlier this year. (I just had to get a rugby connection in, didn't I, but it was the only picture of the Saltire that I had!!!!)Usually the Saltire doesn't have a yellow bit in the middle, but this one belonged to a Scottish Regiment in the army!!!

Again there are different legends surrounding the use of the Saltire as Scotland's flag. Some people say that Angus dreamt one night that St. Andrew appeared to him and promised him a great victory. Angus was about to fight a battle with another king from the North of England, and this dream made him believe that the Scots would win. On the day of the battle a white cross appeared in the sky and Angus did win - this is why the flag of Scotland is sky blue with a white cross. The battle was at a place called Athelstaneford in the year 831.

The other version says that Angus was walking with some friends when St. Andrew appeared to him and told him that when he marched against his enemies he would see the white cross. So Angus had banners made for his soldiers to carry to battle with the white cross on them.

One of the first times that Andrew is recognised officially as the patron saint of Scotland was at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. This was a declaration signed by many of the Scottish noblemen, as well as Robert the Bruce, asserting Scotland's independence from England.

St Andrew's relics disappeared during the Reformation of the Scottish churches, when the Protestant Church came into being and broke away from the Roman Catholic church. Now there are few relics of Andrew in Scotland. A fragment is in St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Not only Scotland have St Andrew as their Patron Saint - Romania, Greece and Russia have him too. But Scotland is one of the few countries to have one of Christ's disciples as their patron saint.

When is St. Andrew's Day
St Andrew's Day is celebrated on the 30th November. (Hence the post!!)

It tends to be more popular with Scots who live abroad and there are many St. Andrew's Societies in places where Scots emigrated to. The St. Andrew's Society in Boston, in the USA, was set up in 1657.

edited when I realised the computer was still dated 29th and not 30th!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy St. Andrews Day to you...yes, I like to think of myself as *Scottish American*! Parliment needs to get on the ball!

3:11 am  

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