Medieval pilgrims return to St Andrews
29 November 2006
Medieval pilgrims are once again making their way to St Andrew’s Cathedral which was traditionally among the holiest places in Western Christendom. Local primary school children – who have learned to chant Latin – will perform a colourful sketch in which they take on the role of medieval pilgrims.
They will be accompanied through the ruined Cathedral by members of St Andrews University’s Kate Kennedy Club in the costumes of monks and a bishop. The youngsters will also hear an Ave Maria performed by Deborah Rudden of the RSNO Junior Chorus.
The event takes place on St Andrew’s Day – which Historic Scotland is celebrating by giving all visitors free entry to the cathedral and its neighbouring castle.
On the same day, students from Anstruther’s Wade Academy, some in costume, will follow in the footsteps of their ancestors when they walk the last stage of the ancient pilgrimage route from Guardbridge to the Cathedral. The academy students will arrive at around 11.45am after which they will be given a special guided tour.
The tour will contribute to the students’ courses in theology and philosophy. Their walk is also being sponsored to raise money for the Rachel House children’s hospice. Younger children from Greyfriars Primary School in St Andrews will also be at the Cathedral for the event, but will not be taking part in the walk from Guardbridge.
Notes for editors
- St Andrews Cathedral and Castle are in St Andrews on the A91. Telephone 01334 472563. Joint ticket prices are normally £6 for adults, £4.50 concessions and £2.70 for children.
- The cathedral, now ruined, was once the largest and most magnificent in Scotland. It was begun in 1160 and stood beside St Rule’s Church, the tower of which is still standing and offers magnificent views.
- St Andrews was among the most important places of pilgrimage in Western Christendom because it was believed to be the final resting place of the martyred apostle. What were supposed to be fragments of his bones were kept at the cathedral.
- The saint was regarded as a potentially influential intercessor and could be appealed to by those in search of a cure or hoping to avoid damnation or a long spell in purgatory by those seeking the remission of sins.
- The first recorded pilgrim was an Irish prince in 967AD. Unknown thousands made the journey from at home and abroad, but in 1512 St Leonard’s Hospital, the main hostel, had become part of the university and the flow of pilgrims had ceased.
- Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland and St Andrew’s Day is recognised and celebrated by Scots around the world on 30 November. The flag of Scotland in blue and white is the Cross of St Andrew (the Saltire).