Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saint Swithin's Day


Saint Swithin’s Day is celebrated in the UK on July 15.  There is a commonly known superstition concerning the weather, which is supposed to be similar to whatever occurs on St. Swithin’s Day for a total of forty days.  That would imply hot and muggy, here in the U.S., with our drought continuing.  A forecasted dry spell might be welcome relief in parts of the UK, however.

Swithin was Bishop of Winchester, and prior to receiving his post, tutored the future King Ethelwulf of Wessex, serving as one of Ethelwulf’s counselors when he acceded to the throne (in 852 AD).  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Swithin’s consecration as Bishop took place on, or about, October 30,, 852.

According to Chambers’ Book of Days, the deceased Swithin was reported to make appearances during a period of reconstruction around Winchester, about a century after his death (Swithin died in 862 AD). He made an appearance nearly a millennium later, as well, in Walter Scott’s “Waverley”.

‘The view of the old tower, or fortalice, introduced some family anecdotes and tales of Scottish chivalry, which the Baron told with great enthusiasm. The projecting peak of an impending crag which rose near it had acquired the name of Saint Swithin's Chair. It was the scene of a peculiar superstition, of which Mr. Rubrick mentioned some curious particulars, which reminded Waverley of a rhyme quoted by Edgar in King Lear; and Rose was called upon to sing a little legend, in which they had been interwoven by some village poet,

Who, noteless as the race from which he sprung,
Saved others' names, but left his own unsung.

The sweetness of her voice, and the simple beauty of her music, gave all the advantage which the minstrel could have desired, and which his poetry so much wanted. I almost doubt if it can be read with patience, destitute of these advantages, although I conjecture the following copy to have been somewhat corrected by Waverley, to suit the taste of those who might not relish pure antiquity…’

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