Saturday, March 7, 2009
Pilgrim Badges and Saint Andrews
These are pilgrim badges depicting Saint Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. As befitted the headquarters of the Christian church in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, its cathedral became the longest and greatest in Scotland. Even in its present ruined state, the scale is impressive - at 355 feet long, it was at one time the second largest church in Britain. The effect on simple pilgrims who visited the cathedral 600 years ago must have been staggering. St Andrews Cathedral, Fife. There was a monastic community in St Andrews in the 8th century. Due to pressure on Iona from the Vikings, the centre of the church in Scotland moved east, first to Dunkeld and then to Kilrimont (the Celtic name by which St Andrews was known in those days).
A church, dedicated to St Rule was built there early in the 12th century. The original, tall (108 feet high) tower of that church still survives (and gives great views over the town). Legend has it that St Rule (or St Regulus) was the original guardian of the relics of St Andrew.
Two legends tell of the bringing of the relics of the Apostle St Andrew to what we now call St Andrews. Both involve a religious figure interpreted as St Rule, or St Regulus, who brought relics of the Apostle to the local site then known as Cennrigmonaid or Kilrymont. Both legends have St Rule establishing an area of consecrated ground, presumably at modern Kirkhill, marked out with twelve crosses. This ground was to become the new resting place for the relics. Whatever the truth of these legends, and whether Rule was no more than a monkish invention, we may never know. There is no doubt however, that relics claimed to be of St Andrew were present at Kilrymont. This subsequently was the reason for the establishment of the place now called St Andrews, as a major religious centre and a prominent centre for pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. However, not all of Andrew’s bones were originally sent to Scotland. The larger part of the saint's remains were stolen from Constantinople by the crusaders in around 1210 and taken to Amalfi, in Italy, where most of them still remain. In 1879 the Archbishop of Amalfi sent some fragments of the saint’s shoulder blade to the Roman Catholic community in Scotland. Further relics were given to the Catholic church in Scotland in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. These fragments are currently on display in a reliquary in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Window of Saint Andrew from the chapel in Edinburgh Castle known as St. Margaret's Chapel. It was built at the beginning of the 12th century. The window was made in modern times however. I took this photo in 2005.
"As pilgrims flooded into shrine towns, they clamored for souvenirs of their travels. Originally they took rocks or debris from the shrines, but as their numbers grew, significant damage was being done to the holy sites. Among the first pilgrim souvenirs were scallop shells sold at the shrine site at Compostela, Spain, in honor of St. James. St. James became the patron saint of pilgrims and his scallop shell became a symbol of pilgrimage right across Europe.
Soon a new group of artisans appeared to serve the growing demand for souvenirs. These "Ampullers" sold lead-tin bottles (ampullae) containing water from the shrines, badges, whistles, rattles and bells. These base metal souvenirs were mass produced in stone molds and sold cheaply in the marketplaces that grew up around pilgrimage sites.
In addition to the religious badges, secular badges and charms were also very popular and featured beasts, heraldic and livery charges, hearts, figures and everyday objects. These were purchased as gifts for those left behind, or as amusing reminders of a good trip in much the same way we buy souvenirs today. Often these badges were quite naughty and winged phalluses were worn together with saints' badges on hats and scrips! The other popular items like rattles, bells and whistles were cast and sold in the same shops and sold to the merrymaking pilgrims, much to the annoyance of the townsfolk. The sales of these items was widespread and they were also cast and sold in girdlers' shops that sold base metal buckles, buttons and belt mounts."
For reproductions of badges follow this link:
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