Scots will celebrate St Andrew’s Day on 30 November. A bank holiday every year, the apostle’s memory will be toasted on a Friday in 2018, the date granting a long weekend and positively inviting revelry.
But who was the country’s patron saint and what are his ties to the homeland of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Irn-Bru?
Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee in 6 BC and was a fisherman by trade.
He and his brother Peter became two of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Apostles or “fishers of men” after they met the Messiah on the shoreline and were called to his side, according to the Gospel of Matthew. John reports that Andrew had previously encountered Jesus as a disciple of John the Baptist, instantly recognising the son of God and vowing to heed the call.
Andrew was present at the Last Supper and went on to preach Christianity in the provinces of Scythia, Achaea and Thrace and along the Black Sea and the Dnieper River, hence his adoption as the patron saint of Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Ukraine and Russia in addition to Scotland.
He was finally crucified by the Romans in the city of Patras, Achaea, on an X-shaped cross, a martyrdom symbolised today on the Saltire – Scotland’s national flag.
Andrew’s remains became holy relics after his death and have been carted across Europe over the centuries. First laid to rest in Constantinople, his skull was eventually exhumed and returned to Patras in the ninth century by Emperor Basil I. The rest of his body was later relocated to Amalfi in Italy for safekeeping by Cardinal Peter of Capua in the aftermath of the sacking of the Ottoman capital in 1208. Read more
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