Rectors Newsletter : July 1995

Dear Friends

Did you hear the one about the vicar who was having terrible trouble with mice in his church.  Carpets and frontals were getting chewed, and the mess was terrible.  So the vicar handed it over to the churchwardens, delegation that’s called, and for a while they tried setting traps.  But the mice were clever, the cheese seemed to vanish but not the mice.  So they tried poison instead, but all that seemed to achieve was a rather sick vicarage cat!  In the end they took desperate measures.  They sent for the Bishop, who duly came and Confirmed all the mice, and they were never seen again!

A good story always beats a lecture, just a gentle reminder that when Confirmed we undertake an obligation to take Communion at least three times a year.  This should include Christmas and Easter.

Isn’t the weather terrible?  I suppose there is some consolation in that the grass in the garden is growing slowly, but so are the tomato plants etc.  I knew we would pay for that lovely weather in early May.  Still, knowing the way things work, having written this the second half of June will doubtless be red hot!

Talking of weather reminds me of a poem we learnt at school :

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 no mair

My electric typewriter has a spell check on it and it didn’t like the words ‘dost’ and ‘mair’, such is progress!  St Swithun’s Day falls on 15 July so if it rains I suppose that’s it.

The life of St Swithun is very well documented, he lived in the 9th Century and more churches are dedicated to him than any other English saint.  He came from a very wealthy family, was Bishop of Winchester for exactly ten years, and died a natural death while still holding that office.  He was regarded as a saint immediately after his death, and probably by the common people while still alive.  He used his great wealth for the relief of the poor and to help ordinary men and women.  This was so unusual in those days, when Bishops were men of great power and authority, that when he died on 2 July 862 he was mourned by everyone from the greatest magnate to the poorest peasant.  He was buried at his own request under the grass outside the cathedral, where, as he said, the common people could come and visit him.  His canonization as a saint followed as surely as night followed day.

I’m sure most of you know the sequel, but it’s worth hearing again.  A hundred years passed by and Winchester’s saint had become famous throughout the land.  Miracles were claimed by those who made the pilgrimage to his tomb, and the Cathedral authorities decided it was time their famous son had a more fitting memorial inside the building.  Was it easier to collect dues from the pilgrims do you think?  Or am I being too cynical!  Anyway when they tried to dig him up it rained, and rained, and rained for forty days non stop, and superstition took hold in the belief that the saint himself was objecting.  Of course, it was just a typical English summer, but they didn’t know that!  But perhaps I’m wrong, could it be that Grandma, seeing my scepticism, now has a smile on her face?

The Rev. B.J. Bennett
Castle Bytham Rectory
Tel: 01780 410166

Added : 12/12/11 : MG


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