St. Swithun's at the Heart of the Community
We are pleased to welcome you to the St. Swithun's Church website.
Christmas Services at St. Swithun's
Sunday 3rd December:
6.30pm Advent Service
Sunday 10th December 4.30pm
Christmas Carol Service at St. Barnabas’
Sunday 17th December:
6.30pm Carol Service followed by mince pies and mulled wine.
Saturday 23rd December 4pm
Crib Service at St. Luke’s
(craft activities followed by Crib Service and refreshments)
4.30pm Crib Service with candles for our younger children and parents
6.00pm Crib Service with candles for our older children and parents
11.30pm Midnight Mass with candlelight.
8.00am Eucharist on Christmas morning
10.00am Sung Eucharist on Christmas Day
Year of Prayer 2018
Advent Sunday this year will mark the beginning of the ‘Year of Prayer’, which is a Diocesan initiative to help us to develop and deepen the life of prayer and spirituality within the Diocese with a particular emphasis on building bridges between our personal and corporate prayer, thus enabling us better to pray our worship.
Throughout the year a programme of activities and events will take place to help parishes engage with the year where they can. The links below will enable you to download some information to get an early look at the planned activities and will give a flavour of what’s to come. Further resources will be added in due course.
- Year of Prayer 2018 – an overview of the year
- Prayer card
- Lent course summary
- Ignatian prayer - resources to be available soon
- Cathedral Pilgrimage
- Clergy Study Days
- Schools flyer
- Youth flyer
Take a look closer look at our church and its history
Click on the following links to take a 360 degree look inside our lovely church
outside in our fabulous churchyard.
Click here for a brief guide to the church and its history.
ST SWITHUN OUR PATRON SAINT
The life of St Swithun, an Anglo-Saxon bishop, is rich in legend. A century after his death in 863, he was chosen as patron saint for Winchester Cathedral’s Benedictine monastery. His bones, housed in a splendid reliquary, became famed for their healing powers. His cult lasted until the Reformation, when all traces of his shrine were swept away.
Who was St Swithun?
The story of St Swithun, the Cathedral’s much-loved Saxon patron saint, combines a handful of hard facts with many legends.
The facts are that he was born in Winchester around 800, became counsellor to the Saxon kings Egbert and Ethelwulf, and was Bishop of Winchester for the last 10 years of his life.
When he died in 863, he was buried in front of the west door of the Saxon Old Minster – you see its outlines traced in brick next to the Norman Cathedral. Here he rested for over a hundred years.
How did he become famous?
When Aethelwold, the reforming Bishop of Winchester, set up a new community Benedictine monks at Old Minster around 964, he decided they needed a new, purpose-made patron saint.
Bishop St. Swithun’s bones were dug up and placed them in a precious reliquary inside the building, given by King Edgar – an act later seen as against the saint’s wishes.
In the 11th century, St. Swithun’s relics were on the move again – this time, into the huge new Cathedral built by the Norman invaders. His Anglo-Saxon reliquary was carried with great ceremony to its new position behind the high altar, where it stayed until 1450.
His tomb became a major site for pilgrims, many seeking to be healed from illness. A short tunnel (the Holy Hole) allowed them to crawl right under his shrine, as close as possible to his miraculous healing powers.
In 1476, a new, even larger shrine was inaugurated at the far end of the building. It must have been a striking sight, festooned with gifts of silver, gold and jewels offered by grateful pilgrims.
What legends are told about him?
One legend claims that St. Swithun tutored the young Alfred the Great. Another says is that he built the first stone bridge over the River Itchen that runs through Winchester.
His most famous miracle tells of a simple act of human kindness to a poor woman. When crossing the bridge, she was jostled and dropped her basket of eggs. The saint took pity on her – and made her broken eggs whole.
One source claims that when St. Swithun died, he asked to be buried out of doors ‘where the feet of ordinary men could pass over him.’
This, and a possible mistranslation of a medieval text, may have given rise to the story that when the saint’s bones were moved inside the Old Minster on his feast day, 15 July 971, a terrible storm broke out, lasting for 40 days and nights.
This is the basis of the popular belief that if it rains on 15 July, it will rain for 40 days. Sadly, this claim has no basis in fact.