|Bishop of Winchester|
|Died||2 July 863|
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholic Church |
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Major shrine||Winchester Cathedral. Parts survive in cathedral museum. Also modern replacement shrine.|
|Feast||2 July (Norway)|
15 July (England)
|Attributes||Bishop, holding a bridge, broken eggs at his feet|
|Patronage||Hampshire; Winchester; Southwark; the weather|
Swithun (or Swithin; Old English :Swīþhūn; Latin : Swithunus; died 863) was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithun's bridge (Winchester) on his feast day (15 July) it will continue for forty days.
St. Swithun was Bishop of Winchester from his consecration on 30 October 852 until his death on 2 July 863.  However, he is scarcely mentioned in any document of his own time. His death is entered in the Canterbury manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (MS F) under the year 861.  He is recorded as a witness to nine charters, the earliest of which (S 308) is dated 854. 
More than a hundred years later, when Dunstan and Æthelwold of Winchester were inaugurating their church reform, Swithun was adopted as patron of the restored church at Winchester, formerly dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. His body was transferred from its almost forgotten grave to Æthelwold's new basilica on 15 July 971; according to contemporary writers, numerous miracles preceded and followed the move.
The revival of Swithun's fame gave rise to a mass of legendary literature. The so-called Vita S. Swithuni of Lantfred and Wulfstan, written about 1000, hardly contains any biographical fact; all that has in later years passed for authentic detail of Swithun's life is extracted from a late eleventh-century hagiography ascribed to Goscelin of St. Bertin's, a monk who came over to England with Hermann, bishop of Salisbury from 1058 to 1078. According to this writer Saint Swithun was born in the reign of Egbert of Wessex, and was ordained priest by Helmstan, bishop of Winchester (838-c. 852). His fame reached the king's ears, and he appointed him tutor of his son, Æthelwulf (alias Adulphus), and considered him one of his chief friends.  However, Michael Lapidge describes the work as "pure fiction" and shows that the attribution to Goscelin is false. 
Under Æthelwulf, Swithun was appointed bishop of Winchester, to which see he was consecrated by Archbishop Ceolnoth. In his new office he was known for his piety and his zeal in building new churches or restoring old ones. At his request Æthelwulf gave the tenth of his royal lands to the Church. Swithun made his diocesan journeys on foot; when he gave a banquet he invited the poor and not the rich. William of Malmesbury adds that, if Bishop Ealhstan of Sherborne was Æthelwulf's minister for temporal matters, Swithun was the minister for spiritual matters. 
Swithun's best-known miracle was his restoration on a bridge of a basket of eggs that workmen had maliciously broken. Of stories connected with Swithun the two most famous are those of the Winchester egg-woman and Queen Emma's ordeal. The former is to be found in the hagiography attributed to Goscelin, the latter in Thomas Rudborne's Historia major (15th century), a work which is also responsible for the story that Swithun accompanied Alfred on his visit to Rome in the 850s. He died on 2 July 862. On his deathbed Swithun begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it. 
Swithun's feast day in England is on 15 July and in Norway (and formerly in medieval Wales) on 2 July. He is also listed on 2 July in the Roman Martyrology. He was moved from his grave to an indoor shrine in the Old Minster at Winchester in 971. His body was probably later split between a number of smaller shrines. His head was certainly detached and, in the Middle Ages, taken to Canterbury Cathedral. Peterborough Abbey had an arm.  His main shrine was transferred into the new Norman cathedral at Winchester in 1093. He was installed on a 'feretory platform' above and behind the high altar. The retrochoir was built in the early 13th century to accommodate the huge numbers of pilgrims wishing to visit his shrine and enter the 'holy hole' beneath him. His empty tomb in the ruins of the Old Minster was also popular with visitors. The shrine was only moved into the retrochoir itself in 1476. It was demolished in 1538 during the English Reformation. A modern representation of it now stands on the site.
The shrine of Swithun at Winchester was supposedly a site of numerous miracles in the Middle Ages. Æthelwold of Winchester ordered that all monks were to stop whatever they were doing and head to the church to praise God every time that a miracle happened. A story exists that the monks at some point got so fed up with this, because they sometimes had to wake up and go to the church three or four times each night, that they decided to stop going. St. Swithun then appeared in a dream to someone (possibly two people) and warned them that if they stopped going to the church, then miracles would cease. This person (or persons) then warned the monks about the dream they had, and the monks then caved in and decided to go to the church each time a miracle happened again. 
Swithun is remembered in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 15 July. 
Swithun is regarded as one of the saints to whom one should pray in the event of drought. 
There are in excess of forty churches dedicated to St Swithun, which can be found throughout the south of England, especially in Hampshire – see list St Swithun's Church (disambiguation). An example is St Swithun's, Headbourne Worthy, to the north of Winchester. This church is surrounded on three sides by a brook that flows from a spring in the village; the lych gate on the south side is also a bridge over the brook, which is unusual. Other churches dedicated to St Swithun can be found at Walcot,  Lincoln, Worcester,  Cheswardine, Shropshire and western Norway, where Stavanger Cathedral is dedicated to him. He is also commemorated at St Swithin's Lane in the City of London (site of the former church of St Swithin, London Stone, demolished after wartime damage in 1962), St Swithun's School for girls in Winchester and St Swithun's quadrangle in Magdalen College, Oxford. In Stavanger, Norway, several schools and institutions are named “St Svithun” after him.
The name of Swithun is best known today for a British weather lore proverb, which says that if it rains on St. Swithun's day, 15 July, it will rain for forty days.
St. Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare
A Buckinghamshire variation has:
If on St. Swithun's day it really pours
You're better off to stay indoors
Swithun was initially buried out of doors, rather than in his cathedral, apparently at his own request. William of Malmesbury recorded that the bishop left instructions that his body should be buried outside the church, ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxius [where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high], which has been taken as indicating that the legend was already well known in the 12th century.
In 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and one theory traces the origin of the legend to a heavy shower by which, on the day of the move, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains. This story, however, cannot be traced further back than the 17th or 18th century. Also, it is at variance with the 10th century writers, who all agreed that the move took place in accordance with the saint's desire expressed in a vision. James Raine suggested that the legend was derived from the tremendous downpour of rain that occurred, according to the Durham chroniclers, on St. Swithun's Day, 1315.
John Earle suggests that the legend comes from a pagan or possibly prehistoric day of augury. In France, St. Medard (8 June), Urban of Langres, and St. Gervase and St. Protais (19 June) are credited with an influence on the weather almost identical with that attributed to St. Swithun in England. In Flanders, there is St. Godelieve (6 July) and in Germany the Seven Sleepers' Day (27 June). There is a scientific basis to the weather pattern behind the legend of St. Swithun's day. Around the middle of July, the jet stream settles into a pattern which, in the majority of years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. When the jet stream lies north of the British Isles then continental high pressure is able to move in; when it lies across or south of the British Isles, Arctic air and Atlantic weather systems predominate.  
The most false that the prediction has been, according to the Guinness Book of Records, were in 1924 when 13.5 hours of sunshine in London were followed by 30 of the next 40 days being wet, and in 1913 when a 15-hour rainstorm was followed by 30 dry days out of 40. 
Ealdred was Abbot of Tavistock, Bishop of Worcester, and Archbishop of York in early medieval England. He was related to a number of other ecclesiastics of the period. After becoming a monk at the monastery at Winchester, he was appointed Abbot of Tavistock Abbey in around 1027. In 1046 he was named to the Bishopric of Worcester. Ealdred, besides his episcopal duties, served Edward the Confessor, the King of England, as a diplomat and as a military leader. He worked to bring one of the king's relatives, Edward the Exile, back to England from Hungary to secure an heir for the childless king.
Ælfheah, more commonly known today as Alphege, was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester, later Archbishop of Canterbury. He became an anchorite before being elected abbot of Bath Abbey. His reputation for piety and sanctity led to his promotion to the episcopate and, eventually, to his becoming archbishop. Ælfheah furthered the cult of Dunstan and also encouraged learning. He was captured by Viking raiders in 1011 during the siege of Canterbury and killed by them the following year after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed. Ælfheah was canonised as a saint in 1078. Thomas Becket, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, prayed to him just before his own murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.
Saint Dunstan was an English bishop. He was successively Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury, later canonised as a saint. His work restored monastic life in England and reformed the English Church. His 11th-century biographer Osbern, himself an artist and scribe, states that Dunstan was skilled in "making a picture and forming letters", as were other clergy of his age who reached senior rank. Dunstan served as an important minister of state to several English kings. He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil.
Saint Mellitus was the first bishop of London in the Saxon period, the third Archbishop of Canterbury, and a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism to Christianity. He arrived in 601 AD with a group of clergy sent to augment the mission, and was consecrated as Bishop of London in 604. Mellitus was the recipient of a famous letter from Pope Gregory I known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, preserved in a later work by the medieval chronicler Bede, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually, integrating pagan rituals and customs. In 610, Mellitus returned to Italy to attend a council of bishops, and returned to England bearing papal letters to some of the missionaries.
Edward, often called the Martyr, was King of the English from 975 until he was murdered in 978. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar, but was not his father's acknowledged heir. On Edgar's death, the leadership of England was contested, with some supporting Edward's claim to be king and others supporting his younger half-brother Æthelred, recognised as a legitimate son of Edgar. Edward was chosen as king and was crowned by his main clerical supporters, the archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of York.
Edgar was King of England from 959 until his death in 975. He was the younger son of King Edmund I and his first wife Ælfgifu. Edmund was killed in 946 trying to protect his seneschal from attack by an outlaw, and because his children were infants he was succeeded by his younger brother Eadred, who ruled until his death in 955. Edgar's older brother, Eadwig, then became king and in 957 the kingdom was divided, Eadwig ruling south of the Thames and Edgar north of it. Historians disagree whether this was the result of a revolt by Edgar's supporters against Eadwig's incompetent rule or had been previously agreed. Edgar became king of all England on his brother's death in 959. A detailed account of Edgar's reign is not possible, because only a few events were recorded by chroniclers and monastic writers were more interested in recording the activities of the leaders of the church.
Wulfstan was Bishop of Worcester from 1062 to 1095. He was the last surviving pre-Conquest bishop. Wulfstan is a saint in the Western Christian churches.
Ælfric of Eynsham was an English abbot and a student of Æthelwold of Winchester, and a consummate, prolific writer in Old English of hagiography, homilies, biblical commentaries, and other genres. He is also known variously as Ælfric the Grammarian, Ælfric of Cerne, and Ælfric the Homilist. In the view of Peter Hunter Blair, he was "a man comparable both in the quantity of his writings and in the quality of his mind even with Bede himself." According to Claudio Leonardi, he "represented the highest pinnacle of Benedictine reform and Anglo-Saxon literature".
The Benedictional of St. Æthelwold is a 10th-century illuminated benedictional, the most important surviving work of the Anglo-Saxon Winchester School of illumination. It contains the various pontifical blessings used during Mass on the differing days of the ecclesiastical year along with a form for blessing the candles used during the Feast of the Purification. The manuscript was written by the monk Godeman at the request of Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester.
Æthelwold of Winchester was Bishop of Winchester from 963 to 984 and one of the leaders of the tenth-century monastic reform movement in Anglo-Saxon England.
Spearhafoc was an eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon artist and Benedictine monk, whose artistic talent was apparently the cause of his rapid elevation to Abbot of Abingdon in 1047–48 and Bishop-Elect of London in 1051. After his consecration as bishop was thwarted, he vanished with the gold and jewels he had been given to make into a crown for King Edward the Confessor, and was never seen again. He was also famous for a miracle which impacted his career.
Oswald of Worcester was Archbishop of York from 972 to his death in 992. He was of Danish ancestry, but brought up by his uncle, Oda, who sent him to France to the abbey of Fleury to become a monk. After a number of years at Fleury, Oswald returned to England at the request of his uncle, who died before Oswald returned. With his uncle's death, Oswald needed a patron and turned to another kinsman, Oskytel, who had recently become Archbishop of York. His activity for Oskytel attracted the notice of Archbishop Dunstan who had Oswald consecrated as Bishop of Worcester in 961. In 972, Oswald was promoted to the see of York, although he continued to hold Worcester also.
Ælfric Puttoc was Archbishop of York from 1023 to his death, and briefly Bishop of Worcester from 1040 to 1041. He may have crowned Harold Harefoot in 1036, and certainly assisted in that king's disinterment in 1040 and at the coronation of Edward the Confessor in 1043. He founded houses of canons and encouraged the cult of John of Beverley.
Liudhard was a Frankish bishop – of where is unclear – and the chaplain of Queen Bertha of Kent, whom she brought with her from the continent upon her marriage to King Æthelberht of Kent. A short ways east of Canterbury he helped found and dedicate to Saint Martin of Tours the first Christian Saxon church in England, St Martin's, still serving as the oldest church in the English-speaking world.
Wulfstan the Cantor, also known as Wulfstan of Winchester, was an Anglo-Saxon monk of the Old Minster, Winchester. He was also a writer, musician, composer and scribe. Wulfstan is most famous for his hagiographic work Vita S. Aethelwoldi.
The Old Minster was the Anglo-Saxon cathedral for the diocese of Wessex and then Winchester from 660 to 1093. It stood on a site immediately north of and partially beneath its successor, Winchester Cathedral.
Goscelin of Saint-Bertin was a Benedictine hagiographical writer. He was a Fleming or Brabantian by birth and became a monk of St Bertin's at Saint-Omer before travelling to England to take up a position in the household of Herman, Bishop of Ramsbury in Wiltshire (1058–78). During his time in England, he stayed at many monasteries and wherever he went collected materials for his numerous hagiographies of English saints.
St. Mary's Abbey, also known as the Nunnaminster, was a Benedictine nunnery in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It was founded between 899 and 902 by Alfred the Great's widow Ealhswith, who was described as the 'builder' of the Nunnaminster in the New Minster Liber Vitae. The first buildings were completed by their son, Edward the Elder. Among the house's early members was Edward's daughter Edburga.
St Swithun upon Kingsgate is a Church of England church in Winchester, Hampshire, England, built in the Middle Ages in the Early English style. Located above the medieval Kingsgate, one of the principal entrances to the city, the church is unusual in forming a part of the fabric of the old city walls. St Swithun's first appears in 13th century records, and under the fictional name of St Cuthbert's, is mentioned in Anthony Trollope's novel The Warden.
The English Benedictine Reform or Monastic Reform of the English church in the late tenth century was a religious and intellectual movement in the later Anglo-Saxon period. In the mid-tenth century almost all monasteries were staffed by secular clergy, who were often married. The reformers sought to replace them with celibate contemplative monks following the Rule of Saint Benedict. The movement was inspired by Continental monastic reforms, and the leading figures were Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, and Oswald, Archbishop of York.