St Andrew: 5 Interesting Facts About Scotland’s Patron Saint

Here in Scotland, we don’t tend to do things by half measures.  If we are going to do something, we do it big, we do it bright and we do it loud.

St Andrew’s Day is really when the festive season starts to kick in. We’re no strangers to flying the saltire flag or nipping out for a quick, sharp whisky and a bit of a sing-song, don’t get us wrong. But when the 30th November flashes up on our calendars and the Scottish spirit begins to tap its feet, you can rest assured that things are going to begin crank up a notch from here on in. Christmas and Hogmanay are on the way and we need to put in some practice.

But wait a second. Who is this St Andrew fellow? And why do we celebrate him?…We’re glad you asked.

If you chat around a bit, you’ll probably notice that surprisingly few people actually know an awful lot about this mysterious figure. They might know something of the history of the Scottish flag and, most certainly, they will have heard of St Andrews the town. But little more than that.

And so, because we’re a kind and thoughtful bunch, we’ve assembled a collection of key facts about our dear St Andrew that we think will help you on your way. You might not know much about him now, but by this end of this entry you’ll be a sure fire expert. Grab your kilt and nibble on that shortbread. Because we’re about to slap you Scottish with some fascinating facts about our nation’s Patron Saint.

He Was Not Scottish: Yes, it’s true. As with so many patron saints, the individual was not from the country of which he is a patron saint of. In fact, St Andrew was born in Bethsaida, in Galilee, now Israel. There is a legend that Andrew did actually come to Scotland and built a church in Fife in a place now known as St Andrews. But this, as stated, is merely legend and has little placing in historical fact.

A Saint Of Many: As far as saints go, St Andrew is quite the popular fellow. Greece, Russia, Barbados, Italy’s Amalfi, and many more countries, have this grand gentleman as their national saint. And if that wasn’t enough for you, other admirers include, fishermen, fishmongers, maidens, singers…Well, you see what we’re saying. He is very much a patron saint of many.

First Disciple Of Jesus: Andrew and his brother, Peter , became two of the twelve disciples that followed Jesus.  He was baptised by John The Baptist and, according to the Bible, was involved in the ‘Feeding of the Five Thousand’. So, not a bad reputation then!

Crucifixion: On 30th November 60AD, by order of the Roman governor Aegeas, St Andrew was crucified in Greece. Unlike Jesus, however, Andrew was crucified on an ‘X’ shaped cross, which since came to be represented with the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire.

Relics:  A tooth, kneecap, arm and a finger bone…No, it doesn’t sound very appealing, but these relics of St Andrew were purported to have been present in the town now named after him, becoming a popular site of pilgrimage during medieval times. The site was destroyed during the Scottish Reformation, but more alleged pieces of Andrew have been sent to Scotland over the years.  For example, an apparent section of the saint’s shoulder blade was gifted by the Archbishop of Amalfi in 1870. This has since been stored in St Mary’s Cathedral, right here in Edinburgh.

So, there you have it! Some interesting facts there about the great patron saint of Scotland.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little piece and that you’ve learnt something new about St Andrew today. We certainly learnt something putting all of this together and look forward to impressing our friends and family with this knowledge later.

Have a wonderful St Andrew’s Day!