Friday, November 30, 2007

St Andrew's Day

St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, Greece, Sicily and a few other places. The national flag of Scotland is called the cross of St Andrew. This site gives a little of his history and the relationship of Scotland to St Andrew:

Saint Andrew was one of Jesus's original disciples, the brother of Simon Peter and a fisherman by trade, who lived in Bethsaida in Galilee (in present-day Israel.) He was originally a follower of St.John the Baptist until he was called to follow Jesus. After Jesus's crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, Andrew travelled widely in Greece and Asia Minor, preaching as he went and making converts to the new Christian religion. Eventually he fell foul of the Roman authorities who were trying to stamp out the new religion, which refused to worship the Emperor as a god, and he was crucified on a diagonal cross in Patras in southern Greece and buried there.

300 years after his death the Emperor Constantine decided to remove the Saint's bones to Constantinople, but according to legend the monk St. Regulus was warned in a dream by an angel, who told him to remove as many bones as he could to the "ends of the earth" to keep them safe.

As far as the Greeks and Romans were concerned, Scotland was as near to the world's end as you could get, so some of his remains were taken to Scotland. St. Regulus brought the relics ashore at what is now St Andrews (some versions say he was shipwrecked there) and a chapel was built to house the bones, followed in 1160 by a cathedral. St Andrews was the religious capital of Scotland and an important place of pilgrimage.

A more plausible version of how the Saint's bones found their way to Scotland is that Acca, Bishop of Hexham, who was a renowned collector of religious relics, actually bought the bones quite legitimately and took them there in 733 AD.

Unfortunately the bones have now disappeared, probably destroyed during the Reformation when anything connected with "Catholic idolatry" was removed without trace. The site where the relics had been is now marked by a plaque in the ruins of the Cathedral in St Andrews.

Not all of St. Andrew's bones were originally sent to Scotland, the rest were stolen from Constantinople by the Crusaders in around 1204 and taken to Amalfi in Italy, from where some fragments were sent in 1879 to Scotland, and in 1969 Pope Paul VI gave some further relics to the Catholic church in Scotland during a visit there and these are now displayed in a reliquary in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Ahem. "[B]ought the bones quite legitimately", that is, if you ignore the simony issue.

This link
will take you to the old breviary (not only pre-V-II, but prior to the Pian reforms of 1955) where you can find the second nocturn readings giving the medieval legend of St Andrew.


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