Saturday 15 July 2023

St Swithin’s Day


St Swithin’s Day

Statue of St Swithin, Stavanger Cathedral, Norway’

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

15th July is St Swithin’s Day. Folk lore holds that if it rains on this day, it will rain for 40 more. If the sun should shine, and sometimes it does, the following 40 days will be fine.

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St Swithin’s day if thou be fair

For forty days will rain na mair.

There is an alternative version in Buckinghamshire which says

If on St Swithun’s day it really pours

You’re better off to stay indoors.

Other saints in other countries are associated with similar beliefs, for example, St Médard on 8th June in France and St Godelieve in Flanders on 6th July.

St Swithin (or Swithun) was the bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862. He is believed to have been the spiritual adviser to Æthelwulf, King of Wessex and tutor to his son Alfred, later Alfred the Great, but little has been recorded of his life to suggest that he was exceptional. His fame came after his death. He seemed a humble man, asking that his mortal remains should be buried outside, where the people might see his grave and the rain fall upon it.

His wish was granted and for a hundred years he lay undisturbed.  In 971, when Winchester Cathedral had been restored, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester declared that St Swithin was to be the patron saint of Winchester and should be interred in a shrine in the cathedral. Accordingly, his body was disinterred and reburied in the new cathedral on 15th July, 971.

The choir, Winchester Cathedral
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Legend has it that after the disturbance of his remains there was a great storm and rain fell for many weeks. If there is a drought, all prayers for rain should be addressed to St Swithin.

We shall see. We have been forecast strong winds today, always exciting as there are many, many trees in this locality. Thus far, it has been a case of fleeting sun, scudding clouds, and furious brief gusts of wind, but nothing untoward.


  1. I never heard of St Swithin’s Day, but it doesn't look like rain out my window.

  2. Fear not - it's never been proved true ;-)

  3. Very interesting information! I had heard about St Swithin as I once lived near Winchester. My daughter also had her graduation ceremony in Winchester Cathedral!

    We’ve had a lot of rain here, in South Devon, today!

    1. Winchester Cathedral is a beautiful building.

  4. Are droughts ever a problem?

  5. First world droughts, really - hose pipe bans are imposed and rivers and reservoirs run dry, or nearly so, but no-one starves.

  6. Now that is something I have heard from! But oh no, we had a heavy shower yesterday afternoon! Oh dear! xxx


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