Parish ‘the source of many a titter and giggle’

Published February 1, 2002

Dear editor,

The article “Inroads by women fall short of leadership positions” was fascinating reading. What pleased me most, however, was Bishop Ann Tottenham’s quote “…I’m happy at St.’s Swithin’s-in-the Swamp.” This was great news our society, which is dedicated to this lesser-known British saint.

Ah yes, St. Swithin’s-in-the Swamp, that proverbial parish, presumably somewhere in Canada, the source of many a titter and giggle. That “swampiness” no doubt derives from the famous rhyme:

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 mair.

And the Swithin/Swithun spelling question is still alive. Last year as we marched in St. Patrick’s Day parade, a spectator viewed our banner and yelled out “Hey bud, you’ve got it spelled wrong.” What to do with only a few seconds to explain centuries of history? In any event we prefer the “Swithun” spelling as this is used by Winchester Cathedral itself – the final resting place of our patron.

History records that St. Swithun was a remarkably holy man who probably tutored Alfred the Great. A bishop of Winchester, England’s ancient capital, he was renowned for his miraculous deeds of a charming, domestic nature.

As well as curing lepers and the lame in his diocese, he is said to have restored a basket of shattered eggs, which were a poor widow’s only marketable goods. Such was his concern for the poor.

Our society was founded in 1974 to promote feelings of goodwill, to encourage the celebration of St. Swithun’s Day – July 15th – and to emulate the life of our patron.

We would be delighted to hear from readers who might like more information about the society or any of our activities.

Norman McMullen

Richmond Hill, Ont.


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