Skip to main content

Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 28 November 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Urgent Question, Alcohol and Drugs Strategies, Equally Safe, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, World AIDS Day 2017


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Most Rev Leo Cushley, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

The Most Rev Leo Cushley (Archbishop and Metropolitan of St Andrews and Edinburgh)

Dear friends, as we all know, 30 November, which is just around the corner, is St Andrew’s day. It is our national day, just as the English choose to celebrate St George, the Irish St Patrick and the Welsh St David. The Welsh found a local lad to celebrate as their national patron; the English have an Armenian soldier, who was popular among the crusaders of the high middle ages; the Irish chose a Briton, maybe from what is now Scotland; and the Scots have a Galilean fisherman.

Who got the best patron? The English picked someone who was brave and chivalrous, the Welsh picked someone who was holy, the Irish picked someone who was fiery and outspoken, and we picked a fisherman. Why a fisherman? I have a theory and it has nothing to do with smokies. Get comfortable, because here it comes.

The English used to have St Peter as their national patron and he was the first Pope. At that time, the Scots had St Columba as their national patron, who was a good local choice, but not quite up to competing with the first Pope, so the Scots changed their national patron to St Andrew. Andrew was not the first Pope, but he was the first man to be called to follow Jesus and, in the middle ages, that counted for something.

More than 1,000 years ago, Andrew’s relics were brought to the town that is now known as St Andrews, and the kings and people of this country built a cathedral in his honour there. I am told that, for centuries, St Andrews cathedral was the largest building in Scotland and pilgrims came from all over Europe to visit it.

Today, we are still proud of Andrew, but in a vague, distant way. Yet he, the university town, his name and his flag all remind us of something that has been here for many centuries doing a lot of good for a lot of people, which is the civilizing influence of fair laws, just courts, a belief in objective truth, standards of behaviour, mutual respect and helping others who need a hand. That is probably the best thing about having Andrew as a national patron: no matter one’s beliefs, there are still one or two of those things that we can all agree are worth holding on to and that are good for us all.

St Andrew, patron of all Scots, pray for us.