St Swithin’s Day

Tomorrow, July 15th, is St Swithin’s Day.

I first heard about it through the Billy Bragg song of the same name. I later discovered that St Swithin – or Swithun – was Bishop of Winchester in the Ninth Century, and, being a modest man, asked at his death, in 862, that he be buried outside his cathedral, where the rain and the people’s feet could fall upon his grave.

Folk soon ascribed miraculous healing powers to him, and he became honoured as a saint, and on the 15th July 971, his body was moved to a new shrine inside the cathedral. But this led to a terrible rainstorm, and ever since, it has been said that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will continue to do so for the next forty days…

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