14 Jul 2013

St Swithin's Day - July 15th (Repost)



"St. Swithin's Day, if it does rain,
Full forty days, it will remain,
St. Swithin's Day, if it be fair,
For forty days, t'will rain no more".


Considering the spate of rain that has hit the Emerald Isle over the last few months, the thoughts of a further 40 days of it would bring you to your knees although the heat wave over the last week or so has started to repair the emotional damage to the nation of the doom and gloom.

But tradition has it that if it rains on St Swithin's Day, we are promised another 40 days of it or if it is fine we will haev 40 more days of that!

But who was St Swithin and why is he associated with such a dire weather prediction?


From Catholic Encyclopedia:


Source: Wikipedia




"ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast made this day honourable for us by the translation of blessed Swithun, thy Confessor and Bishop: Grant thy Church joy in this feast, that we who reverently celebrate his memory on earth may by his prayers be lifted up to heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Bishop of Winchester; died 2 July, 862


Very little is known of this saint's life, for his biographers constructed their "Lives" long after his death and there is hardly any mention of him in contemporary documents. Swithin was one of the two trusted counsellors of Egbert, King of the West Saxons (d. 839), helping him in ecclesiastical matters, while Ealstan of Sherborne was his chief advisor He probably entrusted Swithin with the education of his son Ethelwulf and caused the saint to be elected to the Bishopric of Winchester in succession to Helmstan. His consecration by Ceolnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, seems to have taken place on 30 October, 852. On his deathbed Swithin begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it.


More than a century later (931) his body was translated with great pomp to a shrine within the new church erected by Bishop Ethelwulf (d. 984). A number of miraculous cures took place and Swithin was canonized by popular acclamation. In 1093 his remains were again translated to the new church built by Bishop Walkelin. The shrine was destroyed and the relics scattered in 1538.


It has often been said that the saint was a Benedictine monk and even Prior of Winchester but there is no evidence for this statement. From the first translation of his relics in 984 till the destruction of the shrine St. Swithin was the patron of Winchester Cathedral. He is best known from the popular superstition attached to his name and expressed in the following rhyme:  
St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.


There have been many attempts to explain the origin of this belief, but none have proved generally satisfactory. A similar belief attaches in France to 8 June, the feast of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius, and to other feasts in different countries (see Notes and Queries, 1885, XII, 137, 253). St. Swithin's feast is kept on 15 July, the date of his first translation, and is retained in the Anglican Calendar.

Not a very satisfactory explanation for the rain connection; so having another look around the Internet for an explanation, we came across this:

A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971. According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.
This led to the old wives' tale (folklore) that if it rains on St Swithin's Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

More information on St Swithin:

BBC
Catholic Online
Catholic Saints Info

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