St Andrew - patron saint of Scotland

St Andrews cross flag

Although Andrew and his brother Peter were two of the original apostles, very little is known about Andrew. He was a fisherman from Galilee, who went on to spread the Christian religion in Greece and Asia Minor. He is believed to have been killed by being crucified by the Romans on a diagonal cross in Patras in Southern Greece

Some 300 years after his death, the Emperor Constantine was going to move the saints bones, and legend has it that a monk was warned of this in a dream by an angel, who told him to remove the saints bones to the "ends of the Earth" to keep them safe.

Scotland was as near to the ends of the ancient Greek world as you could get, and that is how his remains came to be taken to Scotland. The monk brought the holy relics ashore at what is now St Andrews

A chapel was built to house them, and by 1160 a cathedral. St Andrews was the religious capital of Scotland, and the goal of many pilgrims

The saints remains have now disappeared, probably destroyed during the Scottish Reformation, when the strictures of Calvinism tended to wish to remove traces of Catholic "idolatry". The site of the relics is now marked by a plaque in the ruins of the Cathedral in St Andrews.

Interestingly, some of Saint Andrew's bones were taken to Amalfi in Italy. From there the church sent some fragments in 1879 to Scotland. And in 1969, Pope Paul VI gave some further relics to to the Catholic church in Scotland during a visit to Scotland

Saint Andrew's Day is celebrated on 30th November each year

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