Tomorrow, November 30, Scots celebrate their patron, St. Andrew.
Andrew, St. Peter’s brother, was the first apostle Jesus selected. Some sources say he was older than Peter. Some say he was younger.
That’s how it goes with St. Andrew. We really have no hard data about him.
Legend claims that following the death of Jesus,
Andrew carried the gospel to Greece and Asia Minor. He died a martyr at Patras by the Black Sea. Apparently, Andrew felt unworthy to suffer crucifixion in the same manner as Jesus did, so he slowly died on an
X-shaped cross. It took three days before death finally claimed him.
The Catholic Encyclopedia calls this cross the “decussate” cross. Most sources refer to it as the “saltire.” Oxford dates decussate (from Latin) to 1658, defining it as “to cross; to intersect.”
Saltire, which originates in heraldry, was first used in Late Middle English. Heraldry defines saltire as, “An ordinary in the form of a St. Andrew’s Cross, formed by a bend and a bend sinister.” In heraldry, “sinister” means, “situated at the left side.”
Whatever term we use, we’re talking about an
Did Andrew really die this way? We don’t know. The idea surfaced only in the 14th century, a long time after his martyrdom on November 30, AD 60, during Nero’s reign.
Evidently, Andrew’s relics (bones) were carried to Constantinople (Istanbul) about AD 357. When Constantinople fell to the French at the beginning of the 15th century, these relics were brought to Italy and placed in the cathedral at Amalfi where they remain.
According to legend, Scotland’s connection began when St. Rule (Regulus) a Greek monk, was told in a vision to take Andrew’s bones and flee, “to the ends of the earth.” He was to stop only when his ship was wrecked.
With a tooth, an armbone, a kneecap, and some fingers, Rule sailed away. The ship was wrecked in south-west Scotland on the shores of Fife — at Kilrymont, now called St. Andrews. Yes. That St. Andrews is where golf was born.
As with all saints, superstitions surround Andrew. For example, if the Cross of St. Andrew is attached to a fireplace, no witch will fly down the chimney. Also, on St. Andrew’s Eve, young women can learn about their future husbands by peeling an apple so that the peel
remains in one long piece. When this peel is tossed over the shoulder, it will fall into the shape of the future spouse’s initial.
Most Scots do believe that in AD 832, King Angus MacFergus was at war in Lothian with invading Northumbrians. The night before the battle, St. Andrew appeared to Angus in a vision, and the next day, white clouds in the shape of a huge saltire formed in the blue sky.
King Angus won that battle.
The Cross of St. Andrew — a white X on a blue background — has been part of Britain’s flag since 1707 when the Union Jack was adopted.
Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia, Ukraine, Malta, Romania, Barbados, and Cicily. His name, from the Greek, Andreia, means “manhood; valour.”