15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B
Just a note please to say thank you to all who came to the event particularly those who provided food items from around the globe. Special thanks are due to the Polish Choir – Mariola, Teresa, Barbara, Asia, Lech, Jacek and Wojciech.
Pictures to follow!
A dramatic St Swithin’s Day
15th July is St Swithin’s Day, when folklore says that fine or wet weather will set the pattern for the next 40 days. It never turns out this way, and the 40-day outlook probably comes from Noah’s biblical deluge of 40 days. Yet there is a grain of truth to the legend, because weather patterns often change in mid-July, and we are already seeing that.
The extraordinary hot sunshine so far this summer came from high pressure, which is now slowly giving way to a mixed bag of showers, thunderstorms and hot sunshine over the coming days.
The saint is thought to have been born in Wessex in 800, served as the cathedral city’s prelate and died in 862. Little else is known of his life, although it has been suggested he briefly served as tutor to the young Alfred the Great.
He is popularly associated with a miracle in which he came to the aid of an elderly woman who had dropped a basket of eggs, picking up the cracked shells and handing them back to her restored to their proper state.
The superstition originates from the exhumation of his remains in 971, a century after his death. The saint had been buried in the Old Minster outside Winchester Cathedral at his request so that the deceased might hear the patter of “the sweet rain of heaven” and the footsteps of passing worshippers, but his bones were dug up by order of Bishop Ethelwold and rehoused in a lavish shrine commissioned in his memory by King Edgar.
Swithin, a naturally humble man in life, disapproved of the gesture and is said to have cursed the land from beyond the grave, the oath marked by the onset of a sudden storm.
He was thereafter thought to control the weather, the superstition recorded in a 12th century verse:
“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 ‘twill rain na mair”
At the time of writing – at the height of a stifling summer heatwave – that seems perfectly plausible. It is hard to believe it will ever rain in Britain again, however much gardeners and allotment devotees might pray to the saint to end the drought.
St Swithin’s Day 210 years ago was very dramatic. July 1808 was oppressively hot (Weather Eye, July 13) before terrifying thunderstorms broke out on July 15. Thunder and lightning was almost incessant, “As if the magazine of heaven had been opened, and all its artillery let loose upon us,” reported a man near Wincanton, Somerset. A mysterious and violent phenomenon also struck Gloucester. “A fire ball burst about 11 o’clock in College Green, carrying away one of the pinnacles upon the west end of the cathedral,” wrote an observer.
Extraordinary hailstones bombarded parts of the southwest. The Bath Chronicle described showers of ice in Gloucestershire, while in Templecombe, Somerset, some hailstones were over a foot in circumference (333 mm). Birds and livestock were killed, trees stripped of branches and leaves, crops pulverised and roofs smashed. At Mells Manor — the home of Colonel Horner of the Little Jack Horner nursery rhyme — windows were broken and not far away a farmer’s boy “was so battered by the hail that he was black and blue”. Incredibly, no one was killed in the storm.
This is more than just a historical curiosity. If a hailstorm of similar ferocity struck today it could cause catastrophic damage and casualties in built-up areas. However, highly destructive hailstorms in Britain have become far less frequent in recent times, for reasons that are not understood.
Taken from the Saturday Times Newspaper & Independent Newspapers July 2018.