On November 30<sup>th</sup> we celebrate St Andrew’s Day and I have no doubt that our brothers and sisters over the border will celebrate that day with great enthusiasm, because St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland (as well as several other countries as well). I also have no doubt that our Rector will also lift a glass to the Saint after who he is named – one of the most worthy and faithful disciples of Christ.
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is walking by the Lake of Galilee and sees two men fishing and asks them to leave their net and follow him. These were Simon Peter and Andrew. The Gospel of Luke also mentions Andrew as Peter’s brother. In the Gospel of Mark we read the same story. The Gospel of John tells another, and in my view, a more powerful story. For here Andrew is named as being a disciple of John the Baptist and when John points out Jesus walking by and calls him the Lamb of God, Andrew immediately leaves John and goes, with another man, to join Jesus.
The name Andrew means manly or strong and the disciple Andrew certainly lived up to that name. Although not mentioned in Acts, the Christian tradition is that Andrew went through Turkey and Greece preaching and was eventually martyred in Patras. The story is that he was sentenced to be crucified but did now want to be honoured by being crucified on the same shaped cross as Jesus and asked to be crucified on a cross with two beans crossing diagonally. This is known as a saltire cross and this form has been adopted on the Scottish flag as a whites diagonal cross on a blue background.
St Regulus, who was a monk at Patras, received a vision and was told to gather up Andrew’s bones and hide them. Many of the relics were then taken to Constantinople. However, Regulus also had another vision to take some bones to the ends of the earth and wherever he was cast up he was to build a shrine for them. He eventually was cast up on the coast of Fife in Scotland and there built his chapel and built a shrine for Andrew’s bones. This is one of several stories about the transfer of the relics to Scotland but it is certain that in 908 AD the only Bishopric in Scotland was transferred to St Andrew’s and this rapidly became a great pilgrimage site. So St Andrew became established as the patron saint of the Scots and quite properly so.
Some more relics of St Andrew came to Scotland in more modern times. In 1879 the Archbishop of Amalfi in Italy (where the bones had been brought in 1453 after the fall of Constantinople) sent to Edinburgh what was believed to be the shoulder-blade of St Andrew.
This was followed by a most generous gesture made in 1969 when Pope Paul VI gave part of the skull of the saint - to Cardinal Gordon Gray, at that time Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh. "Peter greets his brother Andrew," where the words of the Pope to the Archbishop. The relics of the Apostle are today displayed at St Andrew's altar in the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Mary in Edinburgh.
St Andrew evokes many images but the one that we should , perhaps, all hold dear is of a simple fisherman following John and then Jesus and attempting to bring back the Jewish people into a true worship of God and then after the death and resurrection of God to go on and preach the Gospel among the Gentiles and wild barbarians in very violent lands.