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Saint Andrew - what's in a name?


Saint Andrew was the younger brother of Saint Peter, both fishermen from Galilee in the Holy Land, and followers of Jesus. The orginal form of his name – Andreas – is Greek, but we do not know what his Aramaic name was. 

Andrew lived during the late first century BC and early 1st century AD and was an early Christian preacher. According to legend, he was eventually put to death by crucifixion but died on an x-shaped cross because he thought he was unworthy to die the same way as Christ, though there is no consistent tradition of an x-shaped cross until well into the Middle Ages. Legend also states that his relics were brought to Constantinople in the 4th century AD and then to the Pictish town of Cill Rìmhinn in Fife, Scotland, in the 8th century. 

Another legend recounts that King Angus II of Pictland (820-834) had a vision of a saltire in the sky before battle and adopted St Andrew as his patron after his victory. However, it was under Constantine II (900-942) that Andrew first appeared as the patron of Scotland. 

Subsequently St Andrew appeared on the seal of the Guardians (regents) of Scotland in the 1280s and was cited as the man who converted the ancient Scots to Christianity in the Declaration of Arbroath (1320). The Scottish army even wore St Andrews saltires in battle during the 1380s. 

The feast of St Andrew is celebrated on 30 November as Scotland’s national day. It is referred to in the Scots language as ‘Andromes’ or ‘Androsmes’ (Andrew mass) from the late 15th century, ‘Andro’ then being the usual Scottish form of Andrew. There were also variants of this name such as ‘Andermess’ in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

Andrew being a saint he was known as ‘Sanct Andro’ or ‘Sant Andro’ in Scots during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. The Pictish town which became home to his relics subsequently became St Andrews or ‘St Androis’ in Scots. The modern form of the name Andrew in Scots is ‘Andra’ so he is called ‘Saunt Andra’ in modern Scots. The modern form of the town name, in the Scots of the area, is ‘Saunt Aundraes’. It comes as no surprise that Andrew has long been a favourite male name in Scotland.