A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people - you know whom I mean! - whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!
You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (I very much hope that its Sunday proper lections will one day be authorised in a Supplemental Optional Lectionary for the Ordinariates), gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because they are some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.
The old Gregorian Roman and Prayer Book Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wondered if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals. And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?
The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this 'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [he is absent from the pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe]. Very happily and appropriately, our new Ordinariate Missal, now all of two days old, restores the S Pius V form of the Libera nos, with its prominent reference to S Andrew.
What a shame that the modern Roman Rite has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition. Not least because not only is S Andrew the Patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and of several Orthodox countries; in Kiev, where tradition has it that S Andrew planted his wooden Cross, there now stands one the world's baroque masterpieces, the great Church of S Andrew (now a Cathedral of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church). Closer to home, his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. It was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral, once the Northern Powerhouse, as Mr Osborne would say, of the Palatinate.
Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus. And so many toasts to polish off! Duty calls!