The day, 30th November, throughout this old world of ours, Scotsmen gather to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day. Why? Because, of course, St Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. But how many know about him & how come he game to be so honoured.
Andrew was a Jew. He lived in Israel on the shores of Galillee. He was a fisherman. He was one of the 12 men called the Disciples., whom Jesus chose to live close to Him for 3 years. He promised to make them “fishers of men”. After the crucifixion, Andrew preached the faith of Jesus Christ in Asia Minor., along the south coast of the Black Sea & in Greece. The Hebrew authorities killed him on the sands of Patras on the south shore of the Gulf of Corinth, on a cross in mockery of his faith. Andrew only asked he should die on a slanting cross, as he considered he was not worthy of one that which had borne his Lord. He actually ran to meet his death. A slanting cross, white on a blue background, then became the sign by which pictures & statutes of him could be known to those who could not read. When Greece became Christain, Andrew was chosen to become Patron Saint of Patras. Greece, as Israel & Scotland, has rugged mountains which close in around the harbours of the fishing boats. Fish, the harvest of the sea, means health & St Andrew became honoured as the Patron Saint of fishermen.
Some hundreds of years later, when Christianity was finally recognised throughout the Roman Empire, a monk called Regulus had been preaching Christainity to the Scots & was having a hard time to make any headway. On a journey to Israel for rest & refreshment, he saw in Constantinople the coffin of St. Andrew. He thought if he could show the dour Scots some definite signs that the Disciples had been real men, they would surely would believe. He took some Christain relics back to Scotland & his efforts were more successful. In the 8th Century, Andrew was finally accepted as the Patron Saint of Scotland & his white slanting cross on a blue background was the proud flag of Scotland. With the Union of the Kingdoms in the 17th Century, St. Andrew’s Cross became the basis of the three crosses which, being united, form the present day Union Jack.
In Fife, there is a township named after St. Andrew which has become world famous for fishing, education & sport, surely typical attributes of the Scottish race.
Cross of St. George. – George the soldier.
About 293 – 303 A.D.
The Christain faith spread throughout the Roman Empire, even to Britain. As Christains increased in numbers & influence, under some Emperors they were allowed to worship freely in their own way; under others, they were imprisoned, tortured, killed.
The authorities had reasons for the persecutions. According to the official heathen belief of the Romans, the security of the state depended on the favour of the “gods” & “goddesses” who would send good fortune in return for sacrifices, & calamity if they were neglected. One form of worship, the same for all, could unite the peoples of the widespread territories; the Emperor, as symbol of the unity of his dominions, was declared to be himself Divine; to refuse to scrifice to the Emperor was treason.
Those who already worshipped many “gods” could include others easily; perhaps those that protected the conquerors would be more powerful than there own. Christains refused. In all other ways they were law-abiding citizens; in time of peace their difference could be allowed; in time of war it could be seem treason within.
George was born in Palestine, into a wealthy family. His father died when he was a child; his mother, who was a Christain, trained her son. When still very young George joined the Army. He advanced quickly to an officer – some say through his Father’s reputation, on the notice of the Emperor himself. He was sent with his Regiment to the far of colony of Britain to guard the great wall the Romans had built from Wallsend to Solway Firth to protect the more cultivated country from the raids from the wild tribes further North. Stationed at Eburacrum, now the City of York, George was most grievously disturbed. News had come that, by order of the Emperor Diocletian, a terrible persecution of Christains had broken out. He could not stay so far away, protected by his Army rank, while his comrades in faith were suffering torture, death & slavery. Christains in the Colony would be in danger too.
A high Officer, Constantine, in Britain also at this time would have been on terms of duty at Eburacum. It is possible he knew what happened. George made his decision to go himself to plead with the Emperor. He gave away most of his possessions to the poor, taking only what he needed for his journey by sea & land through Western Europe & Northern Africa. At last he arrived in Nicomedia, in Asia Minor on the Bosporus, where the imperaial Court was held. With courage he approached the Emperor, claiming to be heard. He declared himself to be a Chriatain; he pleaded with Diocletian, urged him to save all Christains from their cruel fate. Diocletian, angry & obstinate – perhaps afraid – refused to be merciful.
George, too, must die for his faith; he would be beheaded, unless he would join in the official scrifices to the Emperor & the heathen gods. After enduring torture steadfastly, he was executed on 23rd April, the dat in memory of his martyrdom.
St. George was chosen to be the Patron saint of England during the Middle sges. His badge, a red cross upright on a white ground.
There is an incident known as the “Legend of St. George” by tradition happened on his journey to Nicomedia across north aAfrica. Outside the town of Silene, in Egypt, a girl was chained to a rock; a huge ferocious monster was coming to fevoud her. This “drago” ha dbrought the townspeople to near starvation, devasted their animals & terified them so that none dare go outside the walls of the town to tend to their fields. In desparation they chose by a lot a girl each day to feed the beast, hoping he would be satisfied. George fought the dragon, killed it & set the maiden free. The townsfolk came out ith shouts of joy, urging him to stay with them, but he could not delay. Life & death depended on his purpose for continuing his journey.
Sometimes this has been thought to be a legend in the sense that it was exaggerated or invented to prove the bravery of St. George. Recent knowledge is overcoming doubt, as traces have been discovered of monstrous animals living in historic times in jungles, swamps & marshy country, such as might have been the delta of the Nile. They did not breathe out fire literally, but could terrify a town to the point of famine, as one tiger in India can paralyse a village while crops are spoilt & no one dare venture out alone. This type of calamity with the people rescued by a brave man who became a hero in the pages of several histories. In Italy nearly one thousand years before the time of St. George, Aruns of Volsinium slew the great wild boar.
The great wild boar that had his den
Amidst the reeds of Cossa’s fen,
And wasted fields & slaughtered men
Along Albinia’s shore.
From “Horatius”, by Macaulay.
The fight of St. Georgw with the dragon, recorded in stories, statues, pictures & on golden coins, has become a token for the assurance of the power of courageous faith to overcome evil.
Our flag three crosses showeth, the second red on white;
St. George’s shiels once bore it, whom England chose her Knight;
He fought & slew a dragon, then won a martyr’s crown;
And now his cross flies o’er us, to bid us bear our own.