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Was The Bruce’s ‘blessed Kessog’ our patron saint before Andrew?

While the debate over whether St Andrew’s Day should be an official public holiday keeps going on, consider St Kessog, whom some claim to have been a patron saint of Scotland before Andrew took the honours, and whose feast day falls today, March 10, writes Jim Gilchrist.

“Who?” do we hear you shout, unfurling your saltires in indignant defence of auld Sanct Andra? Yet there are those who claim that Kessog, Kessoc, or MacKessog, a Christian missionary who settled near Luss, on Loch Lomondside, was in effect patron saint of Scotland before Andrew, and that at Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce urged on his troops in the name of “blessed Kessog”.

Records of the Saint are thin on the ground, but most accounts suggest he was a Christian missionary, originally a son of the kings of Cashel, ancient capital of the Irish province of Munster, who arrived in Scotland in or around 510 and established a base on Inchtavannach (“the island of the monk’s house”), just off Luss.

And he is said to have been martyred on March 10, 560, (some sources say as early as 520), a mile and half south of Luss at Bandry, where a cairn to his name become a focus of pilgrimage until the Reformation, but was demolished by road builders during the 18th century.

Today, Luss Parish Church, which in two years time will celebrate 1,500 years of continuous Christian worship on the site, still champions the name of the saint buried somewhere in its grounds, and possesses three artefacts removed from the cairn when it was demolished. These are a carved stone head thought to be of the saint and thought to date from the sixth century, an ancient stone font and a stone effigy of a bishop, which some believe to be Kessog.

Full story at The Scotsman.

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