St Swithin

posted by: Joan Vine | on: Wednesday, 28 June 2017, 11:24


St Swithin

St Swithin

Whatever the weather, on the 15thJuly we celebrate St Swithin’s Day. St Swithin was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop who died around 862. He is said to have been a Bishop at Winchester Cathedral when Winchester was the capital of the kingdom of Wessex.

Very little is known about his life and there is very little mention of him in records for that time, but he was well known for his charitable work and for the building of churches so was made Patron Saint of Winchester Cathedral a century after his death. He is also believed to have been a close confidant of King Egbert and that he had educated his son Ethelwulf, who later bestowed the appointment of Bishop upon him.

The most well know story that is attributed to St Swithin is that if it rains on St Swithin’s day it will rain for forty days and forty nights but where exactly did this legend come from? Well, it is said that when St Swithin lay dying he asked that he should be buried just outside the Old Minster in Winchester where his grave could be walked over and rained upon… And so, it was done however, some one hundred years later Winchester monks uprooted St Swithin and moved his remains into a much smarter shrine in the cathedral, where it was said that many pilgrims flocked to visit the shrine as they believed that St Swithin’s bones had unbelievable healing powers.

Upon the move, it is said that St Swithin wasn’t too pleased about his body being shifted to another place and that on the day he was moved the city experienced fierce storms and drenching rain that lasted forty days and nights, which showed how unhappy he was.

Almost everyone has heard of St Swithin and knows of the folk-story of the forty-day rain, but it is true? Do we have a prolonged period of bad weather if it rains on St Swithin’s day? Mmmm… Perhaps we could take note of the weather on the 15th July in our diary’s and start counting.


 Posted: 28 Jun 2017 | There are 0 comments


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