Thursday, July 16, 2009
I don't know how we could possibly have overlooked it, but...
Yesterday, July 15, was St. Swithin’s Day.
That's him there in the stained-glass window.
St. Swithin was born about 800 near Winchester, Hampshire, in Great Britain and died July 2, 862. He was bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862. At his request, he was buried in the churchyard, where rain and the steps of passersby might fall on his grave. On July 15, 971, more than a century after his death, his remains were moved inside Winchester Cathedral. According to legend, after his body was moved inside the cathedral, a great storm ensued.
English tradition teaches that since it rained heavily on that day, July 15th will mark the start of a 40-day rainy season. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, it is a popular belief that if it rains on St. Swithin’s Day, it will rain for 40 days, but, if it is fair, 40 days of fair weather will follow.
Here is a picture of Winchester Cathedral, the only cathedral to have had popular songs written about it, with the possible exception of the ever-popular “Caaaaaaaaaan-terbury, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”
According to Wikipedia, the song “Winchester Cathedral” was a top ten hit in the U.K. and a number one song in the U.S. in 1966. In related show-biz and political news, Rain was a 1932 movie starring Joan Crawford, and there was once a U.S. Senator from Idaho named Frank Church.
We will close this St. Swithin’s Day observance by listening to Johnny Cash sing “How High’s The Water, Mama?” while watching a clever rebus that illustrates the song’s lyrics perfectly.
If our celebration seems to have become more and more madcap as we went along, we can always blame it on having entered the dog days of summer.