Monday, May 14, 2012

Saint Swithun



    Saint Swithun, who has his very own day sometime in the middle of July, was a Bishop of Winchester in England around the time of Alfred the Great, which puts him as a living person toward the end of the middle of the Ninth Century. 

     I am told, that while sitting and watching men build a bridge over the Itchen River, Bishop Swithun  performed a miracle.  He 'restored' and made whole, a basket of eggs which belonged to a poor woman and which had been 'maliciously' broken by bridge builders.  And for some of us,  this "Miracle of the Eggs" and the interpretation of the events surrounding it, pretty much tells us that despite rumor to the contrary not a great deal changes over time.  Of course those who wish to raise the issue of modern miracles such as longevity, the nation state, suffrage, the use of the word 'charm' in physics, men on the moon and electricity, are all most welcome to their search for solace, and to then go shopping.


    Amongst his many building projects, Bishop Swithun put "churches where none had been.''  The Bridge over the Itchen River was his idea, and I am told that he liked to sit watching men build, because his presence, he insisted, offered them inspiration and guidance.  In those days too, stone buildings were magnificence expressions of human achievement, but the people, and especially the masons, who labored to build them were, I am told, devil worshippers who saved secrets, practiced rituals, and who could not be trusted unless watched at all times because they were prone to idleness and theft, and any other sin a Saint could think of.  So of course they broke a basket of eggs that belonged to a poor little old lady as she innocently passed them by on her way to her daughter-in-law's lowly dwelling, probably without shoes on her feet or flowers in her hair, on the day after the fourth Sunday in Lent.  

     Oddly, a tradition has it that if it rains on Saint Swithun's day, then it'll rain for forty days.  And if it doesn't rain on Saint Swithun's day, "for forty days t'will rain nair mair."  Which are certainly two extremes of alternative.


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