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Weather prediction by saint

July 15 is Saint Swithun’s Day. Legend has it that, if it rains today, we’re in for forty more days of bad weather. It’s like Groundhog Day, but instead of a whistlepig there’s a saint who was buried outdoors.


Vassil [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Swithun has a bunch of rather odd lore around him. His big miracles were repairing eggs (yes, really), telling off sleepy monks (nice), and posthumously rescuing a tortured firewalking queen (okay, that one’s pretty badass).

He was supposedly buried outside in the rain, at his request, and that’s where the weather prediction angle comes in. Here’s the “prophecy”:

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

Saint Swithun’s body was eventually re-buried indoors, which apparently triggered a downpour. Maybe he was a bit annoyed about his body being split up for saint’s relics? His head went to Canterbury and one arm ended up in Peterborough, which is enough to make anyone cranky.

Categories: Earth & sky History Medieval history Religion & belief Sciences

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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