Saturday, December 1, 2012

St. Andrew

Yesterday (Nov. 30) was the feast of St. Andrew. Andrew the Apostle was a fisherman by trade and a brother of St. Peter. He was at first a follower of John the Baptist. Upon recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, he became one of the twelve disciples. After the Resurrection, he went to Greece and eventually became a founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium. It is said that he preached in the Black Sea region, reaching as far as Kiev, Ukraine. He was martyred on a saltire (X-shaped cross), which is now commonly known as a St. Andrew’s Cross. Like Peter, who insisted on his cross being upside down, it is said that Andrew refused to die on an upright cross, because he was unworthy of dying the way Christ did. Instead of being nailed to the cross, he was bound. He survived for a few days and continued to preach to passersby.

Because of his missions in the Black Sea region, he is the patron of Russia, but I am more familiar with him as the patron of Scotland. Relics of St. Andrew were brought from Constantinople to the place that is now St. Andrews, Scotland in the eighth or ninth century. Legend says that in the ninth century, Oengus II was leading the Picts and Scots into battle against the English. He prayed that if he were victorious, he would make St. Andrew the patron of Scotland. On the morning of the battle, the clouds formed an X in the sky. Oengus won the battle, and to this day, the flag of Scotland bears a white St. Andrews Cross against a blue background.

Me at the ruins of the altar of St. Mary's chapel, St. Andrews, Scotland.
This was the first church at St. Andrews, marking the spot where St. Andrew's relics were first brought to Scotland.

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