Saturday, September 18, 2010
"In this month of St. Swithin's Day,
On which, if it rain, they say
Full forty days after it will
Or more or less, some rain distill."
(from "Poor Robin's Almanac," 1697)
I never know where saintly inspiration will pop up, so I'm glad I waited until the day's end to write this entry. At the Island Free Library perpetual book sale on Block Island, I found a nifty and musty book called "The Mystery and Magic of Trees and Flowers" by Lesley Gordon (1985).
In the chapter on saints and their seasons, she writes about specific feast days and flowers. Since I found it to be interesting, I'll devote two blog entries to this.
St. Swithin (or St. Swithun) is a patron saint of weather and his flower is the Cape marigold.
He was a bishop born in Winchester, Hampshire, England c.800. Most of the legends associated with him came after his death on July 2, 862. Just before St. Swithin died, he asked to be buried outdoors rather than in the cathedral so that rain drops would fall on his grave.
The monks complied. Then, more than a century later, a new group of monks decided St. Swithin needed a proper burial and attempted to bring his body inside. When they tried, it rained heavily for forty days. So, they let him be because they believed it was St. Swithin's tears and hence was born the belief that if it rained on his feast day (July 15), it would continue for forty days and nights thereafter.