Monday May 14th 2012 Tim
Saint Swithun, who has his very
own day sometime in the middle of July, was a Bishop of Winchester in
England around the time of Alfred the Great, which puts him as a living
person toward the end of the middle of the Ninth Century.
I am told, that while sitting and
watching men build a bridge over the Itchen River, Bishop Swithun
performed a miracle. He 'restored' and made whole, a basket of
eggs which belonged to a poor woman and which had been 'maliciously'
broken by bridge builders. And for some of us, this "Miracle
of the Eggs" and the interpretation of the events surrounding it, pretty
much tells us that despite rumor to the contrary not a great deal
changes over time. Of course those who wish to raise the issue of
modern miracles such as longevity, the nation state, suffrage, the use
of the word 'charm' in physics, men on the moon and electricity, are all
most welcome to their search for solace, and to then go shopping.
Amongst his many building projects,
Bishop Swithun put "churches where none had been.'' The Bridge over
the Itchen River was his idea, and I am told that he liked to sit watching
men build, because his presence, he insisted, offered them inspiration and
guidance. In those days too, stone buildings were magnificence
expressions of human achievement, but the people, and especially the masons,
who labored to build them were, I am told, devil worshippers who saved
secrets, practiced rituals, and who could not be trusted unless watched at
all times because they were prone to idleness and theft, and any other sin a
Saint could think of. So of course they broke a basket of eggs that
belonged to a poor little old lady as she innocently passed them by on her
way to her daughter-in-law's lowly dwelling, probably without shoes on her
feet or flowers in her hair, on the day after the fourth Sunday in Lent.
Oddly, a tradition has it that if it
rains on Saint Swithun's day, then it'll rain for forty days. And if
it doesn't rain on Saint Swithun's day, "for forty days t'will rain nair
mair." Which are certainly two extremes of alternative.