St Swithun was very much a man of the people; making his diocesan journeys by foot and inviting the poor to his banquets. Although he was Bishop of Winchester, on his death in 862 he asked that he be buried outside the cathedral where his flock would be able to walk upon him and raindrops from the eaves drop down onto his final resting place. However, the powers that be had other ideas and his move to inside the cathedral allegedly gave rise to a tremendous downpour of rain, from which came the legend, still known today:
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
Although the origins for this legend are hotly disputed, the legend itself remains. There is even some scientific basis in the middle of all this. The jolly old jet stream, such a party pooper to our weather when it wants to be, settles itself for a while around the middle of July and stays settled for a good few weeks. So if the weather is bad mid July, it’s likely to stay that way. And if it’s good… well, let’s keep quiet about that and just hope.
Oh, and although St Swithun was most affiliated with Winchester, we do have a (tenuous…) link here in East Anglia. Apparently, after his body was split between a number of smaller shrines, one of his arms found its way to Peterborough Abbey.
image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_19014711_water-drops-on-glass-window.html’>natara / 123RF Stock Photo</a>