The wind from the north has spent the past couple of days howling through the gaps in my window frames. Cold air fills the house, freezing the tea I was drinking no less than a minute ago. Typing wearing Mitts can be difficult, so it's a good thing most of you read quite slowly. As I sit here wrapped in a thick blanket I experience to the full what it means to be a Scot. The weather is always like this up there! Quite why the greatest nation in the world did not make its way down to the Mediterranean coast all those years ago is a question I fail to comprehend. We would make much better neighbors for the Catalans than the ones they already exist alongside. They would be much more tolerable than this lot here!
The point of all this comes clear when you realise that today is St Andrews Day! Today the Scots remember their Patron Saint, St Andrew! However ask the majority of this once Calvinist land what knowledge they have of him and few would know much. The reformation of course removed the fallacy that a dead man could be prayed to or expected to look after one group of people rather than another so saints of any sort get ignored. Quite right too! However this could be a day for remembering what Scotland is about, Scots great contribution to the world, and Scots influence for good to one and all. However let's not talk about me. Scotland as you know has produced more genius's per head of population than any other nation. The greatest Americans have all got Scots blood in them, Scotland led the way in exploration, benevolence, medicine, law, learning, and football. What more could you wish for? The Arbroath Declaration is the main inspiration for 'freedom' in this world. A refusal to be cowed by an aggressive bully at that time has been the mainspring of human freedom ever since. But you know all this and I merely humbly reiterate such for the benefit of the younger generation.
Andrew himself, as you know was brother of Simon, and is considered as the first disciple and the one who brought Simon, later renamed Kephas, Peter to you, to Jesus. While this Peter became well known and ended up dying somewhere in Rome around 64 AD Andrew himself disappeared from history. Around the four hundreds people began to collect bits of dead apostles, a finger here, a toe there, and stories of their healing powers began to circulate. The place where they were stored brought pilgrims seeking healing and Spiritual strength which meant cash could be made by Abbeys and the growing number of monasteries around the world.
Some say Andrews bones lay in Constantinople, a region Origon and others claim he evangelised. Others make similar claims and these may contain an element of truth. How then was he not only on the Volga but crucified at Patras in the Peloponnese? Ah well, we will never know. The story goes his bones remained there until moved to Constantinople by one of the bigwigs of the time. They would interfere wouldn't they? Later bits of him were returned to Patras, but I doubt it is worth a visit myself. For some reason his bones ended up in Hexam, as you might expect. Acca, the bishop, was chased from there at one time and moved himself to Fife, he landed in his wee boat at St Andrews, a miracle that he landed at a town with that name! Proof indeed that this was Andrew! A later Pictish King decided to make Andrew the patron after winning a battle. However as the Picts died out (except in Fife where many still exist) maybe he got that wrong.
Who really knows? In days of yore when few could read, and the bible was only in the possession of a few, often only one or two copies in the land, superstition easily arose and religion was second to church political gain. No change there then! Lacking a biblical understanding people came to put their hope in 'saints' of many sorts, some even Christian, and in time all nations had their own personal 'saints' who would plead before God on their behalf. The new Testament makes clear that only Christ Jesus, the great high priest, pleads before the throne, and that using his own blood shed on the cross. By no other name can men be saved. A 'saint' by the way, is simply someone who receives Christ Jesus death on behalf of his rotten nature, believes Gods mercy, receives the Holy Spirit and finds a new life. Each Christian is in fact a 'saint.' No need for anyone 'special,' bar Jesus himself.