November 30th is the Feast of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. He is also the patron saint of numerous other countries: Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Ukraine and Russia. But we are a generous people and don’t mind sharing! I’ve discovered three surprising things about nationhood during the course of writing this post. Read on to find out more.
Who was Saint Andrew?
Andrew was one of Christ’s twelve apostles (closest disciples or followers) and after Jesus’ death, Andrew began to preach His teachings in Scythia, Thrace and Achaea (the area along the northern coast of the Black Sea and western Greece). It’s not surprising then that these countries which Andrew traversed and taught in should adopt him as their patron saint.
Surprise number one:
But why would Scotland adopt St Andrew as their patron saint? This tiny country, home to the wild Pictish people and far removed from the areas of ancient Greece and Palestine? Well, there are many legends of holy relics (fragments of bones) of St Andrew finding their way to Scotland and other countries in Europe. There is also the tale of a battle of the Picts (ancient Scots), led by Oengus II who reputedly saw an X-shaped cloud which spurred him onto victory and to proclaim St Andrew as the patron saint of Scotland! (St Andrew was crucified by the Romans on an X-shaped cross.) Source: The Independent Online.
Surprise number two:
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first;
nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”
-Charles de Gaulle
This is quite a surprising distinction which I hadn’t fully considered before. It’s wonderful to be a patriot, to love one’s country and to want to share that love with others. It conjures up positive feelings of love, understanding, and yes a dose of pride. And yet, patriotism, love of one’s nation, can so easily slip into nationalism whose gnarly claws of suspicion, envy, greed, insecurity, and thwarted desire lead to no end of negative thoughts, words and acts. In other words, division and hate.
Surprise number three:
This is fascinating! Around 300 million years ago, Earth didn’t have seven continents, but instead one massive supercontinent called Pangaea, which was surrounded by a single ocean called Panthalassa. Source: Livescience.com. These continents then began to split apart over the millennia, until we find the global map so recognisable today.world land mass
So you see, we really aren’t that different. We really are all one people under the sun! In the words of the New Seekers song of 1971, I’d like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony):
“I’d like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land.”
If you’d like to listen to the song, use this YouTube link: New Seekers song. Have a great weekend! Anita.