All things counter, original, spare and strange in Khujand, Tajikistan

St. Andrews 2

St. Andrews is a strange collage.  The first thing you see (at least if you cycle in) is a golf course, and the first thing you’re likely to hear are voices speaking not-English.  It is relatively small, but packed to the gills with tourists, golfers, students and ghosts.

St. Andrews Castle was home to the first Scottish Protestant Congregation.  This congregation was established after Cardinal David Beaton, the previous occupant of the castle, burned Protestant preacher George Wishart at the stake, inciting Wisharts friends to enter the castle disguised as masons, murder the Cardinal, and hang his body out the window to declare Protestant ownership.  The castle was subsequently besieged by the Regent of Scotland, and with the help of the French, was taken.  Firebrand preacher John Knox was among those sentenced to the galleys.

Twelve years later, Knox returned to find a Scotland boiling with reformation fervor.  Eighteen months in the galleys, which permanently ruined his health, and more than ten years in exile had apparently not softened his rhetoric.  After his sermon in St. Andrews the residents stormed out of the kirk and down South Street to St. Andrews Cathedral, the center of Scottish Catholicism.  They stripped the altar and desecrated the relics of St. Andrew, which were said to have been brought from Constantinople during the time of Emperor Constantine himself.  What was not destroyed by outright vandalism was finished off by neglect, until it became the ruin you see now.

This ancient drama is now stepped over and inspected by endless flows of tourists like myself.  My favorites were a group of Italians, one of them looked like the perfect stereotypical Italian: long curly hair, dark skin, strong features–except that he was wearing a kilt.  He was great.  And he said, “bellisimo!”  I wish I knew more Italian than that.

Again helped by friendly strangers, I managed to take the straight way through Tentsmuir and avoid the beckoning of the trees.  Home again for my last night at Deuan’s.  By the way, the pictures are courtesy of wikipedia, due to the tragic loss of my camera.

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