08 December 2010

St Swithun's Gate Part 2

Here we see St Swithuns Gate from outside of the Cathedral Close. But who was St Swithun?

He was born in Winchester, in about AD 800. In 852 he became Bishop of Winchester. Swithun was famous for his charitable gifts and for his activity in building churches. He was one of the most learned men of his time and the tutored King Aethelwulf and his son Alfred (the Great).

Swithun died 862 and was buried outside the Old Minster. Not long after his death there were talks of miracles he performed, his best known miracle was his restoration on a bridge of a basket of eggs that workmen had maliciously broken. He then became Saint Swithun.

The Old Minster was expanded in the tenth century to become Winchester Cathedral, and St Swithun’s relics were moved into it on 15 July 971. This occasion was marked by very heavy rainfall, and the tradition became that if it rains on St Swithun’s Day, it will rain also for the next forty days:

St Swithun’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithun’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t’will rain no more