St.Andrew of Scotland 2023
How did a Galilean fisherman become the patron of Scotland?
According to early chronicles of the Christian religion, Andrew was inspired to preach in Greece and as far north as Kiev, which is why Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Georgia and Russia have him as patron saint. He is widely venerated in many other Christian countries, and among other patronages ascribed to him he is the patron saint of fishers, miners and singers. Andrew was martyred by the Romans in their province of Achaia – now in Greece – at Patras, on an X-shaped cross which became his symbol. Andrew asked to be executed on the saltire cross as it is now know because he did not believe himself worthy to die on a similar cross to that of Jesus Christ. Christians at Patras somehow managed to preserve his body in a secret grave.
Legend again has it that a monk at Patras, St Regulus or Rule, was determined to preserve the relics and in a dream he was told to take the saint’s arm, kneecap, three fingers and a tooth to the ends of the earth – Scotland, at that time!!! Then comes the most intriguing legend about Andrew. You will recall the Constantine story of a vision before battle – well the same vision was seen in the sky by King Oengus II before the Battle of Athelstaneford in 832, and with his Picts and Scots being victorious against the larger forces of Northumbria, Oengus ordered that the flag of his kingdom should be a white X cross on a blue background – the Saltire, as we know it.
The Scottish cult of St Andrew grew exponentially. Thanks largely to St Margaret and subsequent kings, St Andrews became the largest ecclesiastical centre in Scotland and a centre for pilgrimage with the long-lost shrine of our patron saint as the main attraction.
Quite some legend! The important thing, I think, about St.Andrew that we can take away this morning is his willingness to give up everything and to follow Jesus. He did not have to give up his fishing and probably quite a good life but the inspiration he found in Jesus was enough to encourage him to take a risk and to follow the young rabbi to who knew where. Andrew, like us, discovered that faith in Jesus can help us to do things we did not think we were capable of and like Andrew we have a duty to share our faith with those who have yet to hear the words of Jesus speak in their hearts.