2016-11-29 13:19:00

Saint Andrew, Apostle and Patron of Scotland

(Vatican Radio) Scottish Catholics around the world are preparing to celebrate the feast of their patron saint tomorrow.

As the Catholic Church prepares for the major feast day, Vatican Radio's Scottish intern Ryan Black reflects on the relationship between the Apostle and Scotland, and speaks with the Vice-Rector of the Pontifical Scots College and the President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland...

Saint Andrew the Apostle is the patron of many countries worldwide, including Scotland. The Galilean fisherman was adopted by the early Picts and Scots at a time when the country needed a national symbol to rally around. In a story that echoes that of the Emperor Constantine’s victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 AD), King Angus of the Picts saw a Saltire Cross in the sky ahead of his victory over the Saxons at the Battle of Athelstaneford (735 AD). From then, Saint Andrew and his distinctive cross became national symbols of an emerging Scotland.

National heroes William Wallace and Robert the Bruce both appealed to Saint Andrew in times of emergency. Taking advantage of Saint Andrew’s fraternal relationship with Saint Peter, the Scots made a declaration of independence in 1320, called the Declaration of Arbroath, and submitted it to Pope John XXII.

This relationship between Peter and Andrew led Pope Saint John Paul II to say, during his homily in Glasgow in 1982,"Today marks another significant moment in the history of our salvation: the Successor of Peter comes to visit the spiritual children of Andrew! We are bound one to another by a supernatural brotherhood stronger than that of blood. Here and now we testify that we profess that identical faith in Jesus (the faith of Andrew), and we firmly hope that we too can lead others to him. This common profession of faith is the compelling motive behind my pastoral visit.”

Until the Scottish Reformation, the town of St Andrews was the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland. The famous cathedral there, built in 1158, now lies in ruins. The town is the home of the University of St Andrews. Founded between 1410 and 1413 by Augustinian clergy, it is the oldest of four ancient universities in Scotland, and the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world.

The apostle unites Scotland with Greece and Italy; each country has a cathedral dedicated to the saint that contains his relics (in Edinburgh, Patras and Amalfi respectively).

The feast is marked by Scottish Catholics in Rome, too. The community of the Pontifical Scots College, founded in 1600, is under the patronage of Saint Andrew. The Vice-Rector, Fr Gerald Sharkey, spoke to Vatican Radio’s Ryan Black about how the feast is celebrated at the national seminary.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and Archbishop of Glasgow, also spoke with Ryan about how the feast day is celebrated in Scotland. He commented on Saint Andrew’s role as a symbol of “new life” after the “suppression” of the Scottish Reformation.


Catholics in Scotland and around the world will celebrate the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle tomorrow, on 30th November.

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