Wednesday, July 8


St. Swithun, Compton Beauchamp

A very charming low-relief woodcarving of St. Swithun by the English church furnisher Martin Travers; the patron saint of rain is shown with a lining of droplets inside his cope and a sun in splendor for a morse, a wonderful bit of iconographic 'wit.' The lettering below is also particularly fine. (Source)

A rhyme runs:

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 na mair.

Saint Swithun receives his patronage due to a postmortem weather miracle of sorts, as Wikipedia notes:

Swithun was buried out of doors, rather than in his cathedral, apparently at his own request, so that "the sweet rain from heaven may fall upon my grave" [and also, as an act of humility, the feet of travellers: ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxius -MGA]. In 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and it is said that the ceremony was delayed by 40 days of torrential rain, a sign of Swithun's displeasure at the move. (Source).
His feast is coming up on July 15, so be sure to bring an umbrella.

As an aside, I find it interesting there is no patron saint invoked against rain, suggesting perhaps getting a bit wet is a strictly modern concern.

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