Saint Andrew, Patron Saint of Scotland

by John Switzer

Andrew was born and raised in Bethsaida, a town in Galilee on the banks of Lake Genesareth about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. He was probably about 20 years old when he met Jesus, making him 5 or 10 years younger than Christ. Andrew and his older brother Simon worked for their father in the fishing business. Andrew and three other fishermen were mending their nets on the shore when Christ approached them and said, "Come and follow me. I will make you fishers of men." Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he met Jesus and was with him when John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"


Andrew introduced his brother Simon to Jesus, who accepted him as a disciple and gave him the name Peter. This might make Andrew the first missionary of the disciples. About a year later Jesus chose 12 to be his apostles and Andrew was named among the first four.


Andrew was the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and the fishes to Jesus for feeding the 5,000.


After the resurrection of Christ, Andrew became a missionary. He preached in Scythia on the north shore of the Black Sea in an area which is now Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine. He preached in Russia as far as the Volga River and was also the patron saint of Russia.


It was at Patras in Greece that he was crucified on the X-shaped cross known today as the Saint Andrew's Cross. Andrew was put to death because he refused to renounce his Lord. It was at his own request that an X-shaped cross was used because, he said, "I am not worthy to be crucified in a cross like my Lord's." Andrew was not nailed, but bound, to a cross, on which he preached to the people for two days before he died. The saint's body was placed in a casket and buried at Patras.


This crucifixion occurred in about the year 70. His "cult" was very popular in the Greek Church and then spread to Rome in the 5th century, and from there to France and England.


In the fourth century, Constantius, son of Constantine, ordered that St. Andrew's body be moved to Constantinople. A monk named Regulus had custody of the burial place. Two days before the body was to be taken, Regulus was visited by an angel who commanded him to take some of the bones out of the casket and await further instructions.


The relics of St. Andrew were transported from Patras to the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople. And after the seizure of that city by the Crusaders in 1204, they were stolen and given to the Cathedral of Amalfi in Italy.


The angel appeared to Regulus a second time. The angel told him to take the bones "to the far land of the Picts." After two years of rough voyaging and many hardships, Regulus and some companions landed at Kilrymont, now called Saint Andrews, where an unnamed king of the Picts, with all his nobles, received and venerated the relics. This king dedicated a "great part of the place" to God and Saint Andrew that it might be the head and mother of all the Churches in the Pictish Kingdom.


Regulus built a church to shelter the relics and was made its first bishop. He evangelized the people for 30 years. Gradually the Scots succeeded and absorbed the Picts. Historians report two stories of a great battle. Hungus, a great king of the Picts, fought against Adhelstan, king of the Saxons. He was encamped at the mouth of the River Tyne. St. Andrew appeared to Hungus in a dream and told him to divide his army into seven bodies. He defeated the Saxons.


The other story has Hungus surrounded by a divine light when the voice of St. Andrew promises him victory if he will dedicate the tenth part of his inheritance to God and St. Andrew. He is victorious and thanks God and St. Andrew.


The victorious king met with the monk Regulus and the relics of St. Andrew at the harbor called Matha. They fixed their tents where the royal hall now is, and King Angus gave the place and city to God and St. Andrew to be the head and mother of all the churches in the kingdom of the Picts.


A similar legend says that a Scottish king, in grave peril as he went into battle, looked upward and beheld a white, luminous X against the blue sky and took it as an omen of victory. From that incident came the St. Andrew's banner, a white X on a field of blue, which became the national flag of Scotland, and is now the foundation of the Union Jack, on which are imposed the crosses of St. George and St. Patrick.