Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Saint Swithun's Day

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days twill rain na mair
We refer to the ecclesial calendar, and co-ördinate it with the natural world, so by accident some saints are associated with climatological events. The germans have the ice saints of middle may. The French have Médard for rain and so on.

Swithun was a ninth century west saxon bishop of Winchester, who requested to be buried outside, so that, the rain from heaven would fall on his grave. A century later, his remains were moved inside. The first translation was on 15 July 971. It, was said to have, rained for forty days. His shrine was well visited over the centuries. The last visitation in 1538 was for its destruction, as
the minions of Henry VIII Tudor, enjoyed pillage and vandalisation.

For some Swithun’s name sounds obscure, quaint, facetious, funny and forgettable. It is comically attributable as a proverbial, podunk parish among the anglicans.

Swithun (Svithin, Swithin), is remembered at Stavanger Cathedral, Norway (supra). The original bishop, Reinald, had come from Winchester.

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