Wednesday, November 30, 2011

History of St. Andrew's Day - Patron Saint of Scotland

Today is St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland where Apostle Andrew is the Patron Saint. His feast day is always observed on November 30
th. St Andrew's Day is a day to celebrate Scottish culture, cuisine and ceilidhs. (Social gatherings)

St Andrew's flag is the flag of Scotland. It is in the form of a white X on a blue background known as The Saltire.

Scottish Guardsmen marching in the St. Andrew's Day Parade


Who was St. Andrew?

The New Testament records that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter who was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade. At the beginning of Jesus' public life they occupied the same house at Capernaum.

The Gospel of John teaches that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him to follow Jesus.

There is still a major shrine in the Church of St Andreas at Patras, with his relics.

He was often described as an old man with long white hair and beard, holding the Gospel Book or scroll, sometimes leaning on a saltire.

After spreading the word of Jesus in his travels Andrew was eventually martyred by crucifixion at Patras in Achaea, Greece on an X-shaped cross (Saltire). This became known as "Saint Andrew's Cross"; this style was at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Christ was crucified.

Having Saint Andrew as Scotland’s Patron gave the country several advantages. Because he was the brother of Saint Peter, founder of the Church, the Scots were able to appeal to the Pope in 1320 for protection against the attempts of English kings to conquer the Scots.

Traditionally, Scots also claimed that they were descended from the Scythians who lived on the shores of the Black Sea in what is now Romania and Bulgaria and were converted by Saint Andrew.

As Scotland slowly became a nation it needed a national symbol to rally round and motivate the country. Saint Andrew was an inspired choice and the early Picts and Scots modeled themselves on Saint Andrew.

The Saltire Cross became the heraldic arms that every Scot is entitled to fly and wear. The first time the color of the Saltire is mentioned is in the Acts of Parliament of King Robert II in July 1385 where every Scottish soldier was ordered to wear a white Saltire.

The Saltire was flown on Scottish ships and used as the logo of Scottish banks, on Scottish coins and seals and displayed at the funerals of Scottish kings and queens — that of King James VI for example and of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots.

There are many St Andrew Societies worldwide, set up originally as self-help organizations for Scots who had fallen on hard times, formed by a network of Scots who are all united under the Saltire Cross of Saint Andrew.

St. Andrew is also recognized as the Patron Saint of the Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Romania, Philippines, Amalfi, Luqa (Malta) and Prussia; Army Rangers, mariners, fishermen, fishmongers, rope-makers, singers and performers.

1 comment:

Kittie Howard said...

I love this post, how it combines history with one's sense of adventure - I'd love to go to Scotland right now and see St. Andrew's cross atop an historic building.