Scotland’s patron saint, St Andrew

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  • St Rules Church in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral, Fife
    St Rules Church in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral, Fife

Uncover the story of St Andrew and discover why he has been the patron saint of Scotland for over 1000 years.

Not much is known about the life of St Andrew or exactly how he came to be patron saint of Scotland but he was believed to have been a fisherman and one of Jesus’ first Apostles.

He was sentenced to death by crucifixion by the Romans in Greece, but he requested to be crucified on a diagonal cross as he felt he was not worthy enough to die on the same shape of cross as Jesus.

Legend has it that relics of the saint were brought from Patras in Greece to Kinrymont in Fife in the fourth century by St Regulus, following his shipwrecking off the east coast. The church at Kinrymont subsequently became the cathedral of St Andrews and developed into a major centre of medieval pilgrimage.

Another version relates that in the ninth century, the Pictish king, Angus mac Fergus, adopted St Andrew as patron following the appearance of a saltire in the sky immediately before his victory at Athelstaneford.

Records show that St Andrew was probably the patron of Scotland by the year AD 1000. In 1286, the Seal of the Guardians of Scotland bore, on the obverse, a representation of St Andrew on his X-shaped cross. In 1390, St Andrew was first used as a national symbol on a coin of the realm, a five-shilling piece minted in the reign of Robert III. The diagonal cross on which St Andrew died also features on Scotland’s national flag, the Saltire.

St Andrew's Day falls on 30 November in Scotland and is a bank holiday, with many organisations enjoying a day off and events taking place across the country to celebrate St Andrews Day in a patriotic fashion. The last few years have seen many more events taking place across the country with a number of Scotland’s historic attractions allowing free admission for the day.

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