St. Andrew and His Cross

Where we sang this morning

Happy St. Andrew’s Day! I had the honor and joy of celebrating the feast in church this morning. Added to the usual liturgy and communion were prayers and song lifting up one of our dear elderly parishioners who died in the Lord early today. Now the memory of his repose will always be tied to this feast.

Andrew was the first of Jesus’s disciples, and centuries ago became the patron saint of Scotland and other countries. I wore my tartan plaid skirt as I always do on November 30th, and this year I had a new purple Celtic scarf to wear, recently brought from Scotland by Pearl.

Some of you might remember that I wrote about this years ago; I’m sorry to say that while trying to repost those thoughts this morning I deleted them instead. Ah, well, it turns out to be a blessing, because the accident caused me to find that just today John Sanidopoulos has written a thorough history of how it happened that the Scots chose this saint for their patron, and his cross for their official national flag.

This form of cross is called a saltire and is linked to St. Andrew because he was crucified on a diagonal cross in the first century. I learned that the first use of the X-shaped symbol was on medieval soldiers’ clothing, probably a white image on a black background. And today there are many Scottish nationalistic garments and items that hearken back to this design, like this belt buckle.

It was only in the last decade that Scotland made St. Andrew’s Day an official bank holiday. The nation also has another flag you might be more familiar with, the Lion Rampant, the unofficial national flag that belongs to the kings and queens of Scottish history. And there is the Union Flag of the entire U.K. Time was, Scotland could not legally fly its official satire on its national holiday of St. Andrew, but that sorry situation has been rectified of late.

These national days and flags have been part of the cultural consciousness since the 14th century, a consciousness that naturally changes from generation to generation. The original and deeper meanings of this cross are probably lost in the background fog of the mind of the nation.  It is encouraging to think that even if they have largely forgotten him and their Christian heritage, St. Andrew continues to pray for the people of Scotland.

3 thoughts on “St. Andrew and His Cross

  1. This is so interesting! the boys were looking at the Google iamge for St Andrew's Day and I was telling them about the patron saint of Scotland bit, but I love your depth of story here. Since the Scottish Parliament era the flag thing has definitely got more heated.


  2. Gretchen, loved this post because you've taught me so much; thank you.
    Dave and I both have family from Great Britain…he, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; me, all those and England. Love our heritage especially the one in the Lord.


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