Dates for assembly

25th November 2005 at 00:00
November 30 St Andrew's Day

Andrew was one of the original disciples of Jesus and became Scotland's patron saint 1,000 years ago even though he never visited the country.

Online script After the end of Jesus's life on Earth, his disciples travelled widely, spreading his teachings. One of them, Andrew (the first to have been called to discipleship by Jesus), travelled to Patras in Achaia (the southern part of mainland Greece). There, he persuaded the wife of a Roman official, called Egeas, to become a Christian. Her name was Maximilla.

This didn't please Egeas. He had Andrew thrown into prison, beaten and then condemned to death by crucifixion. Unlike Jesus, Andrew wasn't nailed to the cross, but was tied tightly to it by rope. He stayed alive for two days, preaching the word of Jesus. It is said that more than 2,000 came to listen and many became Christians.

Almost certainly, the cross was a T-shaped one, rather like the one Jesus was nailed to. Centuries later, artists showed Andrew tied to an x-shaped cross, known as a saltire cross. This may have been because in Greek the first letter of the word "christ" is x (or "chi").

During the 4th-century, a man called Regulus (who also became a saint) had a dream in which he was told to carry the remains (or relics) of Andrew "to the ends of the earth". For him, this meant Scotland. He and a small group of friends travelled there by sea from Greece, taking with them either a bone or bones of the saint. They landed on the east coast of Scotland and built a church near to where they landed, burying the relic under the church. That place is now called St Andrews.

Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland and the Scottish flag shows a saltire cross in white on a blue background - the blue being a reminder of the sea. Some Scots now wish to make St Andrew's Day a national holiday.

Andrew, incidentally, is also the patron saint of Greece and of Russia.

Follow-up

Stories about Andrew can be found in Matthew's Gospel (chapter 4, verse 18); John's Gospel (chapter 1, verses 35-42; chapter 6, verses 1-14).

If circumstances permit, stage a recent Scottish innovation - the porridge-making competition.

Comprehensive information about Andrew and "the Scottish connection" can be found at www.religionfacts.comchristianityholidaysst_andrews_day.htm

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