St Andrew and his older brother, Simon Peter (later Saint Peter), were both disciples of Jesus. They were born in Bethesda on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where they became fishermen. Famed to be both strong and kind, Andrew was the disciple who brought the first foreigners to meet Jesus, and shamed a large crowd of people who’d previously shunned the newcomers into sharing their food with them.
Andrew, like many of Jesus’ disciples, was persecuted for his Christian beliefs. He is said to have travelled to Greece to preach Christianity, where he was bound to an “X” shaped cross at Patras, and crucified. This cross is now represented in the form of the white X which appears against the blue background of the Scottish flag ( The flag is commonly known as The Saltire ).
Very little is known about Andrew and what led to his adoption as Scotland’s patron, but the fact that Saint Peter was Andrew’s brother, made him a particularly useful patron saint for Scotland. Saint Peter was celebrated as the founder of the Church, and the Scots were able to use this to appeal to the Pope in 1320 for protection against the attempts of English kings to conquer their country.
Some of St Andrew’s remains are said to be kept at the site of the town that is now called Saint Andrews, where a chapel was built to supposedly house them. This chapel become a place of pilgrimage in the middle ages. More of Saint Andrew’s relics are kept in Saint Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh, while others are reputed to be in Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in Amalfi, Italy, and Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in Patras, Greece.
As well as Scotland, Saint Andrew is also the patron for Romania, Greece and Russia.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.