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What is a Patronal Festival?
Patronal Festivals are seen as the birthday of a church and is the occasion on which a parish annually honors the saint who was chosen as the Patron Saint of the parish. Members of the church come together to praise the life and witness of the apostle - in this case St. Andrew. In 2017 we celebrated on Sunday, November 26th.
St. Andrew's remains were originally preserved at Patras in Greece. However, some believe St. Regulus, who was a monk at Patras, received a vision telling him to hide some of Andrew's bones. Shortly after St. Regulus’ dream, many of Andrew's relics were transferred to Constantinople (now Istanbul) by order of Roman Emperor Constantine around 357. St. Regulus later received orders in a second dream telling him to take the bones "to the ends of the earth." He was to build a shrine for them wherever he landed. He was shipwrecked on the coast of Fife, Scotland.
Whilst St. Andrew was generally revered in Scotland from around 1,000 AD, he didn't become its official patron saint until the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. When St. Andrew was crucified on 30 November 60AD, by order of the Roman governor Aegeas, he was tied to an X-shaped cross and this is represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire, since at least 1385.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Greece, Scotland, Russia, Italy’s Amalfi and Barbados as well as other countries. He is the patron saint of singers, spinsters, maidens, fishmongers, fishermen, women wanting to be mothers, gout and sore throats. St. Andrew is also the patron saint of the Order of the Thistle, one of the highest ranks of chivalry in the world, second only to the Order of the Garter.
Purported relics of St. Andrew, including a tooth, kneecap, arm and finger bone, meant the town of St. Andrew’s in Scotland became a popular medieval pilgrimage site up until the 16th century - when they were destroyed in the Scottish Reformation. In 1870, the Archbishop of Amalfi sent an apparent piece of the saint's shoulder blade to Scotland, where it has since been stored in St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.
In September 1964, Pope Paul VI had all of St. Andrew's relics that ended up in Vatican City sent back to Patras. Now, many of Andrew's relics and the cross on which he was martyred are kept in the Church of St. Andrew in Patras, Greece.
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Who Was Saint Andrew?
St. Andrew was a fisherman before he and his brother Simon Peter became two of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He was baptised by John the Baptist and was the first disciple of Jesus. In the Greek Orthodox tradition he is known as "Prōtoklētos" (Πρωτόκλητος) - literally "the first-called”.
St. Andrew, also known as Andrew the Apostle, was a Christian Apostle and the older brother of St. Peter. According to the New Testament, Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (now in Israel) during the early first century. Much like his brother, Simon Peter, Andrew was also a fisherman. Andrew's very name means strong and he was known for having good social skills.
In the Gospel of Matthew, it is said Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and saw Andrew and Simon Peter fishing. It is then he asked the two to become disciples and "fishers of men."
The Gospel of John states Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist stated, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" It is then that Andrew and another made the decision to follow Jesus.
Christian tradition is that Andrew went on to preach the Good News around the shores of the Black Sea and throughout what is now Greece and Turkey. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras. He was bound, rather than nailed, to a cross, as is described in the Acts of Andrew. He was crucified on a cross form known as "crux decussata," which is an X-shaped cross or a "saltire." Today this is commonly referred to as "St. Andrew's Cross." It is believed Andrew requested to be crucified this way, because he deemed himself "unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus."
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Built in 1907, St. Andrew's is recognised as one of the finest churches of the first half of the twentieth century and the masterpiece of Edward Schroeder Prior - but it's not just a beautiful building!
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