Posts Tagged ‘Winchester Cathedral’

Saint Swithun

English: St Swithun's memorial shrine at Winch...

English: St Swithun’s memorial shrine at Winchester Cathedral with Fedorev’s iconostasis on the retroquire behind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Swithun (or Swithin, Latin: Swithunus; died c. 862 AD) 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, the weather on his feast day (15 July) will continue for forty days. The precise meaning and origin of Swithun’s name is unknown, but it most likely derives from the Old English word, swip, ‘strong’.

Swithun was bishop of Winchester from his consecration in October 852 or October 853 until his death on 2 July sometime between 862 and 865. 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. His signature is appended the witness lists of several Anglo-Saxon charters. Of these charters, three belong to 833, 838, 860-862. In the first, Swithun signs as Swithunus presbyter regis Egberti, in the second as Swithunus diaconus, and in the third as Swithunus episcopus.

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 Saint Peter and Saint Paul. His body was transferred from its almost forgotten grave to Æthelwold’s new basilica on 15 July 971, and according to contemporary writers, numerous miracles preceded and followed the move.