Wednesday, 15 July 2015

St. Swithun, Bishop and Confessor - Local Feast in the Dioceses of Southwark, Portsmouth and Arundel and Brighton




The local Feast on the 15th. July, here in the Archdiocese of Southwark, England, is that of St. Swithun, Bishop of Winchester.

The following are taken from Wikipaedia:

"Swithun (or Swithin, Old English: Swīþhūn, Latin: Swithunus; died c. 862 A.D.) was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. According to tradition, the weather on his feast day (15 July) will continue for forty days. The precise meaning and origin of Swithun's name is unknown, but it most likely derives from the Old English word swiþ, 'strong'."

"The name of Swithun is best known today for a British weather lore proverb, which says that if it rains on Saint Swithun's day, 15 July, it will rain for 40 days.
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 nae mare
A Buckinghamshire variation has
If on St Swithun's day it really pours
You're better off to stay indoors.
Swithun was initially buried out of doors, rather than in his cathedral, apparently at his own request. William of Malmesbury recorded that the bishop left instructions that his body should be buried outside the church, ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxius [where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high], which has been taken as indicating that the legend was already well known in the 12th century.
In 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and one theory traces the origin of the legend to a heavy shower by which, on the day of the move, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains. This story, however, cannot be traced further back than the 17th or 18th century. Also, it is at variance with the 10th century writers, who all agreed that the move took place in accordance with the saint's desire expressed in a vision. James Raine suggested that the legend was derived from the tremendous downpour of rain that occurred, according to the Durham chroniclers, on Saint Swithun's Day, 1315.
More probable is John Earle's suggestion that the legend comes from a pagan or possibly prehistoric day of augury. In France, Saint Medard (8 June), Urban of Langres, and Saint Gervase and Saint Protais (19 June) are credited with an influence on the weather almost identical with that attributed to St Swithun in England. In Flanders, there is St Godelieve (6 July) and in Germany the Seven Sleepers' Day (27 June). There is a scientific basis to the weather pattern behind the legend of St Swithun's day. Around the middle of July, the jet stream settles into a pattern which, in the majority of years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. When the jet stream lies north of the British Isles then continental high pressure is able to move in; when it lies across or south of the British Isles, Arctic air and Atlantic weather systems predominate."

Happy Feast to all those in Southwark, Portsmouth and A&B.



 

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