July 18, 2017

The Weather Lore Surrounding St. Swithin’s Day

Saint Swithin

We are posting belatedly about Saint Swithin (or St Swithun), the 9th century saint perhaps best known for a meteorological prediction which is supposed to take place on his feast day, July 15th. Here is the ancient rhyme responsible:
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
According to traditional folklore whatever the weather is like on that day, whether rainy or sunny, it will continue for the next 40 days and 40 nights. The likelihood that this proverb is an accurate predictor of weather is slim, although occasionally the jet stream cooperates giving some degree of veracity to the ancient formula.

What little we do know about St. Swithin is that he was born in Wessex, England sometime in the 9th century and was educated at the old monastery at Winchester. He was subsequently ordained there and became chaplain to King Egbert of the West Saxons. At the time, Winchester was the kingdom's capital. .

Known for his humility and his care for the poor, he was also the tutor to the King’s son, who apparently elevated him to the Bishopric of Winchester after he himself ascended the throne. He supposedly performed just one miracle during his lifetime, making an old lady's eggs whole again after workmen smashed them while constructing a church.

It is said that at his death in 862, St. Swithin requested that he be buried, not in his cathedral, but outside the church among the common people. He was named patron saint of Winchester Cathedral about 100 years after his death. Swithin is derived from the Old English word for "strong" and St Swithin's symbols are raindrops and apples.St. Swithin, intercede for us so we love God completely.

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