Nicki was looking into the history of St Swithin’s Day…
St Swithin’s Day falls on 15th July every year. According to tradition, the weather on that day will continue for the next 40 days and 40 nights. Let’s hope the sun shines.
St Swithin was an Anglo-Saxon bishop at Winchester Cathedral who died in 862. He was famous for his charity work and church-building and was made patron saint of Winchester Cathedral about 100 years after his death. Swithin is derived from the Old English word for “strong” and the symbol of St Swithin’s is raindrops. Now, considering June was the wettest month on record, I’m really hoping this symbol doesn’t have any bearing on the rest of the summer. On the plus side, at least a hosepipe ban looks unlikely.
Back to the story and St Swithin supposedly performed a miracle at some point during his lifetime, somehow making an old lady’s eggs whole again after workmen smashed them whilst building a church. As he lay on his deathbed, St Swithin asked to be buried outside the Old Minster in Winchester, in a lowly grave where his body would be trodden and rained on. However more than a century later, on July 15, 971, his remains were removed by monks to an elaborate shrine inside the cathedral where pilgrims flocked, believing his bones to have miraculous healing properties.
But legend has it that St Swithin wasn’t happy about his body being moved. On the day of the removal, ferocious and violent rainstorms arrived lasting 40 days and nights, apparently representing his displeasure. This story soon became folklore and now British people traditionally keep an eye on the weather on 15th July. There is also a memorial to St Swithin at Winchester Cathedral.