Probably a native of Wessex, St. Swithin (or Swithun) was born c. 800. A
favorite of Egbert of the West Saxons (king from 802-839), Swithin served
as the king's chaplain and tutored
Æthelwulf, who nominated him for bishop of Winchester
in 852. Installed in that year, Swithin established a
reputation as a missionary. He was famed also for his knowledge of the the
Scriptures. He remained loyal to his pupil, whom the West Saxons ousted in
856. Swithin died in 863, and he is called Weepy St. Swithin because of an
association of his feast day (2/15 July) with rain. Some say the roots of
this are ancient: constellations that forebode rain rise at that time.
Others attribute the connection to the 40 days of rain that prevented the
971 translation of his relics from the Old Minster cemetary into
Winchester Cathedral, whose dedication was changed from Sts. Peter and
Paul to St. Swithin.
Karen Rae Keck
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