Medieval manuscripts blog

30 November 2013

Happy St Andrew's Day


Miniature of André Serre of Dijon praying to his patron, St Andrew, in a Book of Hours: Dijon, 16th century (London, British Library, MS Harley 3181, f. 22v).

It's 30 November, the feast-day of St Andrew the Apostle and the national day of Scotland. The brother of St Peter, Andrew is considered the founder and first bishop of the church of Byzantium. According to the Gospel of St John the Evangelist, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist, before becoming a follower of Jesus, and being present at the Last Supper. St Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras, reportedly by being bound to the cross rather than nailed to it; but a tradition later emerged that Andrew had in fact been crucified on a saltire or x-shaped cross, as he felt himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus.


Miniature of St Andrew, in a Book of Hours: Bruges, c. 1500 (London, British Library, MS King's 9, ff. 36v-37r).

Andrew is believed to have become patron saint of Scotland in the 10th century. A legend states that relics of Andrew were brought at that time from Constantinople to Scotland, and carried to the place subsequently named St Andrews. Since 2006, St Andrew's Day has been celebrated in Scotland with a public holiday (or bank holiday), which this year is on 2 December as the feast-day falls on a weekend.

To celebrate St Andrew's Day, here is a selection of medieval images of St Andrew from the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. You can find more by searching that site, and typing "Andrew" in the keyword box. Which one will be your favourite?


The calling of St Peter and St Andrew, from a choirbook: Italy, 15th century (London, British Library, MS Additional 18196, f. 84r).



The crucifixion of St Andrew, in Wauchier de Denain, Lives of the Saints: France, 13th century (London, British Library, MS Royal 20 D VI, f. 185r).



The crucifixion of St Andrew in the Queen Mary Psalter: England, 14th century (London, British Library, MS Royal 2 B VII, f. 286r).



The martyrdom of St Andrew, in a Book of Hours: England, 14th century (London, British Library, MS Egerton 2781, f. 76v).



Miniature of St Andrew, in a Book of Hours: Paris, c. 1410 (London, British Library, MS Egerton 1070, f. 80v).


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