This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

15th July, St Swithun, Bishop and Confessor

St Swithun, Bishop and Confessor
(Dioceses of Portsmouth and Southwark)

Bishop of Winchester; died 2 July, 862.

Swithun (or Swithin) was one of the two trusted counsellors of Egbert, King of the West Saxons (d. 839), helping him in ecclesiastical matters, while Ealstan of Sherborne was his chief advisor. He probably entrusted Swithun with the education of his son Ethelwulf and caused the saint to be elected to the Bishopric of Winchester in succession to Helmstan. His consecration by Ceolnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, seems to have taken place on 30 October, 852.

On his deathbed Swithun begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it.

 More than a century later (971) his body was translated with great pomp to a shrine within the new church erected by Bishop Ethelwulf (d. 984). A number of miraculous cures took place and Swithun was canonized by popular acclamation. In 1093 his remains were again translated to the new church built by Bishop Walkelin. The shrine was destroyed and the relics scattered in 1538.

Reputedly St Swithun did not approve of the translation of his relics, and caused it to rain continuously for 40 days. Hence the folklore that if it rains on St. Swithun's day it will continue to rain for 40 days. Appropriately, he is the patron saint of drought relief.

St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.

St. Swithun's feast is kept on 15 July, the date of his first translation.

Sacerdotes tui, Domine, induant justitiam, et sancti tui exsultent: propter David servum tuum, non avertas faciem Christi tui. * Memento, Domine, David et omnis mansuetudinis ejus.
Let Thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with justice, and let Thy saints rejoice: for thy servant David's sake, turn not away the face of Thy anointed. * O Lord, remember David and all his meekness.
(Psalm 131:9-10,1 from the Introit of Mass)

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui hodiernam diem honorabilem nobis in beati Swithuni, Confessoris tui atque Pontificis, festivitate fecisti: da Ecclesiae tuae in hac celebritate laetitiam; ut, cujus solemniter veneramur in terris, ejus intercessione sublevemur in caelis.
Almighty, everlasting God, who hast causes us to hold festival this day in honour of Thy blessed confessor bishop Swithun, make it a joyful occasion for Thy Church; and may we who pay devout homage to him on earth be supported by his advocacy in heaven.
(Collect of Mass)

In Winchester Cathedral, a shrine was created in 1962 over the point where the Saint was buried.

See the Catholic Encyclopaedia on St Swithin:

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