A prayer inspired by St Swithun

Noy much at all is known about St Swithun – most of it is myth and more myth!  He WAS Bifhop (that’s rhe way medievals wrote their S’s) of Winchester which was top dog cathedral at the time – so was a very important man – and he has a reputation for humility.

The story has it that when he died his instructions were that he be buried in a damp section of overshadowed ground outside the cathedral (the remains now called Old Minster) so that people would walk over his grave and thus offer a lesson in humility – rather like the double decker mausoleums that some old bishops have which show them in their pomp on the top deck and as a rotting corpes on the bottom deck.

Anyway – the monks needed a saint after a bit of a disaster and there had been some reports of some miracles in the area around his humble grave – so Bishop Swithun became Saint Swithun and they needed a more fitting place for pilgrims to visit.  Hence – huige jewel encrusted box on the minster altar!

Swithun was not pleased – so there was a 40 day deluge – from which story we get the famous St Swithun rhyme:

“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”

I wrote a prayer in his honour:

Make no pomp or ceremony,
bury me outside the door.
Treat me as the least,
shout not my name from the rooftops,
bury me outside the door.
Write my name in the footnotes, not the title,
let others be radiant in stained glass,
build me no marbled mausileum,
bury me outside the door.
Let no special feast days be held,
write not my name in indelible ink,
fix not my 3-d likeness atop stone pillars,
smallprint will suffice,
number me not among great men and women,
bury me outside the door,
   in the damp bit,
      where folk will walk over me,
         and remember this, only this:

that Christ alone is the one to be remembered
and in your own humility, may you grow to be like him.

PS if you ignore this, let this warning suffice,
I WILL rain on your infernal parade!

1 thought on “A prayer inspired by St Swithun

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