A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
St Swithun (Swiþhun, Swithunus) (c800-62). Feast Day in the UK with Church of England Lesser Festival celebrating the 971 translation to an indoor shrine in the Winchester Old Minster of the remains of the Hampshire Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester. Although he was known for his piety and zeal in building new churches or restoring old ones and he is recorded as a witness to nine charters, the earliest dated 854, Swithun’s historical importance as Bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. On his deathbed, he begged to be buried outside the north wall of his Cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves fall upon it. With the translation of his remains, Swithun was adopted as the patron of Winchester Old Minster, formerly dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. His remains were later divided between a number of smaller shrines, with his head being taken in Medieval times to Canterbury Cathedral and his arm to Peterborough Abbey. His main shrine was transferred to the new Norman Cathedral at Winchester in 1093 but his empty tomb in the ruins of the Old Minster was also popular with pilgrims. A tremendous downpour of rain on St Swithun’s Day 1315 led to the tradition that if it rains on Winchester’s Saint Swithun’s Bridge on 15 July it is likely to rain for the following forty days and forty nights: “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.” There were pagan and prehistoric days of weather augury and there are various weather saints, including St Cewydd, whose Feast Day was 2 July with St Swithun on the Julian calendar, as for Norway’s present commemoration of the death of St Swithun, and was mapped onto the Gregorian calendar on 1 July for the Welsh Rain Saint. However, South Wales tradition records 15 July as Dygwyl Cewydd, the Feast of St Cewydd to coincide with the Gregorian St Swithun’s Day. Other rain saints include: in France, Cewydd’s Sixth-Century contemporaries St Gildas (Gweltaz), a British monk and historian who founded the monastery of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys in Brittany and St Medard (Méard) the Picard Bishop of Noyon; and the Fourth-Century St Urban, the Bishop of Langres. Also: the Second-Century Milanese martyrs Sts Gervase and Protais; in Flanders the young Eleventh-Century Flemish martyress St Godelieve (Godeliève, Sint-Godelieve); and in Germany the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus on the 27 July Seven Sleepers’ Day (Siebenschläfertag). St Swithun’s major shrine in Winchester Cathedral was demolished in 1538 during the English Reformation but a modern representation of it now stands on the site. There are over forty churches dedicated to St Swithun in the south of England, Lincoln, Worcester and Shropshire. Also, in western Norway where Stavanger Cathedral is dedicated to him and several schools and institutions are named after him. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion. Feast Day in Norway 2 July, commemorating his death. Patron of Hampshire, Winchester, Winchester Cathedral, Southwark, the weather and invoked against drought. Image: tes.com.
Prayer Almighty God, by whose grace we celebrate again the feast of your servant Swithun, grant that, as he governed with gentleness the people committed to his care, so we, rejoicing in our Christian inheritance, may always seek to build up Your Church in unity and love; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
St Vladimir the Great (Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь, Volodiměrъ Svętoslavičь, Valdamarr gamli, Vladimir Sviatoslavich) (c958-1015). Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism commemoration of the death of bastard Grand Prince of Kiev, whose mother was a cave-dwelling prophetess. Vladimir was the Rurik Slavic Prince of Novgorod and was the ruler of Kievan Rus’ from 980 to 1015. He was a pagan who had eight hundred concubines and numerous wives and erected pagan statues and shrines to gods worshipped by his subjects, including: Perun, the Norse god of thunder and war; the Slav god of the winds Stribog and of the sun Dazhd’bog; Mokosh (Мóкошь), a goddess representing Mother Nature and women’s destiny worshipped by Finnish tribes; and Khors (Хърсъ) and Simargl, of uncertain Persian origin. In 987, Vladimir sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighbouring nations and when they returned was told that Muslim Bulgarians had no gladness in them and that the Jewish loss of Jerusalem was evidence of their abandonment by God. He thus in 998 converted to Chalcedonian Christianity as the ideal, taking the Christian name of Basil, and continued the Christianisation of the Kievan Rus’ to Eastern Christianity, with its majestic Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia. Vladimir lived the teachings of the Bible through acts of charity by handing out food and drink to the less fortunate and going out to those who could not reach him. His work was based on helping one’s neighbours by sharing the burden of carrying their cross. He founded numerous churches, established schools, protected the poor and introduced ecclesiastical courts. From 1009, open abuse of the deities that most people in Rus’ had revered triggered widespread indignation and a mob killed the Christian Fyodor and his son Ioann, who are regarded as the first Christian martyrs in Rus’ and are commemorated on 25 July. Vladimir died of natural causes at Berestove (Берестове), near Kyiv. The various parts of his dismembered body were distributed among his numerous sacred foundations and were venerated as relics. St Volodymyr’s Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Kyiv, is dedicated to Vladimir the Great, as was originally Kyiv University. Venerated in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism. The Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine Rite Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches celebrate the Feast Day of St Vladimir on 15/28 July. Vladimir is regarded as a symbol in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Image: orthochristian.com.
San Bonaventura (St Bonaventure OFM, Seraphic Doctor, Doctor Seraphicus, Giovanni di Fidanza) (1221-74). Church of England feast day and Roman Catholic Obligatory Memorial commemorating the death of the medieval Italian Franciscan Friar, scholastic theologian, philosopher and metaphysicist. A Teacher of the Faith and Doctor of the Church, after having successfully defended his Order, which he entered in 1243, against the reproaches of the anti-mendicant party, he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order, the seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor. He steered the Franciscans on a moderate and intellectual course that made them the most prominent order in the Catholic Church until the coming of the Jesuits. His theology was marked by an attempt to completely integrate faith and reason, as he thought of Christ as the one true master who offers humans knowledge that begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding and is perfected by mystical union with God. In 1265, he was selected as the Archbishop of York but never consecrated and resigned the appointment in 1266. Bonaventure was awarded the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano in 1273 and his presence at the great 1274 Second Council of Lyon led to a union of the Greek and Latin churches. Bonaventure died suddenly in Lyon in suspicious circumstances. The only extant relic, which is now conserved at Bagnoregio, in the parish church of St Nicholas, is the arm and hand with which he wrote his 1248 Commentary on the Sentences of Lombard in four volumes and eight other volumes including a Commentary on the Gospel of St Luke and a number of smaller works. Venerated in Catholic Church, Church of England. St Bonaventure’s Catholic Church and Primary School in Bishopston, Bristol were named in his honour. Patron saint of bowel disorders. Image: santodelgiorno.it.