Shepton Beauchamp

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church:vicars_letters:aug2013mag

If it rains on St Swithun’s Day

I did a school assembly the other week; it was the middle of the heat wave. I talked about the custom of St Swithun, wherein if it rained on his feast day then it would rain for forty days afterwards. I felt fairly confident, with temperatures in the very high 20’s that it wouldn’t rain – and actually it didn’t (though some years ago I prayed for rain and we had very wet summers for three years!!!). The children were fascinated by the story behind the legend, so it developed into a sermon, and has now evolved into a Web Article!

Swithun was probably a teacher who lived in the ninth century kingdom of Wessex. It was a time of great danger and turmoil as the Vikings made their first raids on the south coast of England, bringing with them violence and bloodshed. Swithun tutored the king’s family and legend has it that with his wages, he bought bread for the poor children of Winchester and, whilst they ate, he would teach them stories from the Bible and of the Saints. Eventually the King needed to chose a new Bishop of Winchester and Swithun had earned not just the royal trust, but also the respect of the citizens of the city; much to his dismay, he got the job. Teacher to Bishop, there’s a thing – by the way the Diocese is looking for a new Bishop of Bath & Wells, if any teachers are interested ……….!!!

For ten years Swithun toiled in his new career, making the church a place of safety and secured in troubled times, open and available to rich and poor alike. By the time he died he was greatly respected but he asked for a humble grave without the usual monuments. His wish was granted and he was given a simple resting place, but one of great honour, right outside the front door of Winchester Church!

In the next two hundred years, Winchester Church grew, in stages, into a Cathedral and four times it was necessary to move Swithun’s grave or build on it, until eventually he was laid to rest inside the great building. Each time it was moved there were thunder storms, lightning and torrential rain; perhaps that is where the legend comes from. And it didn’t rain on his feast day year…..enjoy the heat (and please don’t ask me to pray for rain!!).

Fr. Geoff

From the Church Registers

William Bush, 85yrsAshes interred with his late wife Pamela at Shepton Beauchamp 13th July 2013
Meredyth Outram-HawkinsHoly Baptism at Dowlish Wake20th July 2013
church/vicars_letters/aug2013mag.txt · Last modified: d/m/Y H:M (external edit)