It is the 29th of October 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 370.
When we've discussed the 4th century, we've been almost exclusively in the early part of the century. And that makes sense for the history of the Christian church and the western world. At the beginning of the century, we get stories like the Diocletian persecution and Constantine's rise. After the battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine legalizes Christianity. In 325, the Council of Nicea meets, and then Constantinople is founded as the jewel of the empire in the East and a new center for the church. It makes sense why some would be tempted to begin the decline narrative after these highlights, but the problem is two-fold. The decline had already long started. It was a slow-moving decline. And secondly, the second half of the century is just as important.
Consider the following that happened between the years 350 and 400. The earliest monasteries were being formed. The official canon of the Bible was set by a letter from Athanasius. St. Jerome begins his work on the Vulgate. The earliest surviving manuscript of the Bible was copied (Codex Sinaiticus).
The Council of Constantinople, which was the second ecumenical council, never gets its due. When we say the "Nicene" Creed, we likely mean the "Nicene–Constantinopolitan Creed." But it's too hard to tell, so we pretend only the first council confirmed that creed.
And it was on this day in 370—well, to the extent that we have any chance at synching old times calendars and new times calendars—it is on this day that is has been recognized by history and tradition that St. Regulus, a church leader from the Greek city of Patras, claimed to have received a message from an angel. This message warned Regulus that the otherwise friendly Constantine was attempting to consolidate the church's relics at his new capital at Constantinople.
And so, Regulus and his crew gathered what relics they could of St. Andrew, the first called disciple and brother of Peter. They were able to collect his upper arm, three fingers from his left hand, a kneecap, and one tooth from the saint, and they sailed westward out of the Mediterranean. We don't know where they were headed, but the story goes that their ship ran aground off the east coast of Scotland and the Greeks decided to camp out there. The legend continues and proposes that Regulus met the Picts King Angus MacFerguson, and they decided to build a church and community in what was then called Cennrigmonaid. It would become the burgh of St. Andrews.
Now, the story isn't true. Historical methods can't really "verify" hagiography. But the story of St. Andrew would become as important as what actually happened. The Scottish have historically wanted to throw off their English oppressors' yoke and have sought various ways to do so. In the 12th century, the Scots appealed to the Pope, claiming the 4th-century version of St. Regulus and St. Andrew to be true. Furthermore, that would establish an independent Scottish church before the first missionaries were in England.
St. Andrews would become the center of Scottish medieval Christianity in the middle ages and the second most popular pilgrimage destination outside of the Cathedral of St. James Compostela in Spain. The Reformation then took root in St. Andrews, and the rest is a story for another time. Scottish ecclesiastical autonomy would be established because of a story that probably didn't happen but is remembered and memorialized on this, the 29th of October, when we tell the story of St. Regulus' fantastic escape with the relics of St. Andrew.
The reading for today is a poem from Anne Brontë of the famous Brontë sisters. This is her "The Penitent."
I MOURN with thee, and yet rejoice
That thou shouldst sorrow so;
With angel choirs I join my voice
To bless the sinner's woe.
Though friends and kindred turn away,
And laugh thy grief to scorn;
I hear the great Redeemer say,
"Blessed are ye that mourn."
Hold on thy course, nor deem it strange
That earthly cords are riven:
Man may lament the wondrous change,
But "there is joy in heaven!"
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 29th of October 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who thought the "official canon of the Bible" would be cooler than just a list of books, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. Remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.