St Andrews’ plea for patron saint’s missing left hand

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The owners of a “lucky touchstone” statue of Scotland’s pat­ron saint have appealed for the safe return of his left hand – years after the disciple and his digits became separated.

The larger than life-size statue of St Andrew was gifted to the University of St Andrews in the 1960s.

The University of St Andrews' life-size statue of of Scotland's patron saint which is missing its left hand. Picture: PA Wire

The University of St Andrews' life-size statue of of Scotland's patron saint which is missing its left hand. Picture: PA Wire

A copy of the sculpture by Francois Duquesnoy which stands in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the statue is the work of Mussleburgh-born artist Alexander Handyside Ritchie, who died in 1970.

Prior to its donation to St Andrews it was a feature in the foyer of the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company building in Edinburgh, where the clerks and actuaries believed that touching its hand as they arrived for their duties would bring them good fortune.

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A spokeswoman for the university said: “For almost four decades, St Andrew has lived modestly in the shrubbery of the Botanic Garden car park in St Andrews, and it was during this period that he and his hand parted company.

“Now the university plans to clean, restore and move the historic statue to a central location, and has appealed to generations of students past and present for information leading to the whereabouts of the missing hand.”

The statue will be moved from its current location for restoration work before the end of this year and will be reinstated in the gardens of the University Museum on the Scores in St Andrews in the spring.

Dr Katie Stevenson, University of St Andrews assistant vice-principal collections, who is leading the restoration project, said: “The hand of St Andrew is an important part of the statue’s history.

“Before it came to the university in the 1960s, St Andrew sat in the foyer of the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company building in Edinburgh and as members of staff came in to work they touched his fingers to bring them luck.”