Who was Saint Andrew ? Despite what many may think, St. Andrew, who is the patron saint of Scotland, did not live and work in that country. In fact, his legendary connections to Scotland appeared centuries after his death.
Andrew, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, was a fisherman by trade. After Jesus’s crucifixion, Andrew carried on Jesus’s work. He brought the gospel to parts of Asia Minor, specifically to Syria. Roman soldiers ended Andrew’s life. According to the traditions of the time, the soldiers crucified Andrew on a diagonal cross. Later, his “relics” were taken to Constantinople. Reportedly, those relics were moved to Italy in the later part of the fourth century. During that time, Saint Regulus managed to bring some of Saint Andrew’s bones to Fife, in Scotland. We are unsure of these facts because the bones no longer exist. They were reportedly lost during the Reformation, but a plaque in the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral marks where the bones once were kept.
Outside of Scotland, Saint Andrew’s Day is of little significance. However, it is a special day for Scots worldwide.
Why is Saint Andrew the patron saint of Scotland? In the ninth century AD, control of the area around Lothian led to a conflict between the Picts and the Scots and the Northumbrians. Near Athelstaneford in East Lothian, Angus McFergus, the leader of the Picts, had a dream in which St. Andrew promised him a victory. In the midst of the battle the following day, Angus supposedly saw an X-shaped cross in the sky above him. The sight gave the Picts the inspiration they needed to win the confrontation. The white cross against a blue background became part of the saltire, the Scottish national flag.