Hooray, hooray, it’s St. Swithin’s Day!!!
It falls on the calendar every July 15 and helps you predict the weather.
So here’s the story on St. Swithin, who you probably never heard about unless you are from England (or had a mother born in England, like me).
Swithin was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. He was born sometime in the year 800 and died on July 2, 862. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracles involving influencing the weather. According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithin’s bridge on his July 15 feast day, it will continue to rain for another 40 days, but if the weather is fair, there will not be any rain during that same period of time. His name was originally spelled Swithhun and he also is often referred to as the patron saint of weather.
Many churches in the south of England, particularly in the Hampshire region, are dedicated to him. He was said to have performed only one actual miracle in his life, not involving the weather, but chicken eggs. The story goes that workers constructing a church accidentally smashed a basket of eggs from a nearby hen house that was owned by an elderly lady. When Swithin discovered the tragedy, he supposedly performed a miracle by making the eggs whole again.
So why the legend about weather? On his deathbed, Swithin asked that he be buried in a cemetery outside Winchester Cathedral. But after his death, leaders felt he deserved a more fitting memorial that would involve moving his body inside the massive church and placing it in an ornate shrine. On July 15, 971, more than 100 years after his death, monks disinterred his body from the graveyard and began moving it into the cathedral. Immediately outside the church, a violent storm erupted which began an onslaught of heavy rain that continued for — you guessed it — 40 days. (Nothing remains of St Swithin’s shrine, which was destroyed during King Henry VIII’s Reformation, but there is still a memorial to him in Winchester Cathedral). https://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/
Given the continuing hit and miss predictions by weather experts armed with mind-numbing computer models, satellites and weather data stations dotting the globe, St. Swithin’s forecasting model may be as good as any. With the current blast of heat in New Mexico, let’s all pray for some great thunderstorms tomorrow.