“Wait, St. Swithun was a real person?” We get that a lot. “Wait, Molly Brant was a real person?” We never get that. Nonetheless, welcome to the first and only Saturday match-up of Lent Madness 2015. Go ahead, sleep late and dally over your coffee while you read about these two saintly souls. But don’t get used to it: after today’s battle, voting will return bright and early on Monday morning with Hadewijch facing off against Juan Diego.
In yesterday’s action, David Oakerhater stunned Teresa of Avila in the first major upset of the season. In heavy voting (another day, another record total), David scored 60% of the vote to Teresa’s 40% and will go on to face the winner of William Laud vs. King Kamehameha in the Saintly Sixteen.
Yes, folks, it’s called Lent Madness for a reason. If your bracket is busted, you’re not alone. But stick around — the real goal is to learn about some amazing people, not to “win” Lent. Of course if you do stand victorious at the end of the season, you have every right to gloat. In a loving, Christian kind of way, of course.
As long as you’re enjoying a leisurely morning, why not listen to Tim chatting about all things Lent Madness from yesterday’s edition of Boston Public Radio? Click here and then scroll to 1:28 of the broadcast to catch the only segment that really matters.
Saint Swithun, often humorously referenced as the patron of the generic country church “in the field” or “in the swamp,” was an actual Anglo-Saxon bishop and was enshrined at Winchester Cathedral. He is revered for posthumous miracle working and is believed to hold sway over the weather, especially the rain. According to tradition, the weather on his feast day of July 15 continues for forty days. And Californians, take note: Saint Swithun can also be prayed to for the relief of drought.
Swithun was a pious Bishop of Winchester in the ninth century. He convinced King Æthelwulf to bequeath a tenth of his royal lands to the Church, and with those lands Swithun built and restored churches with noted zeal. The king relied on the revered bishop for spiritual counsel, while another bishop advised him on temporal matters. Swithun was known as a friend of the poor who traveled his diocese on foot. A single miracle was attributed to the bishop while he was alive. Workmen were said to have maliciously broken an old woman’s eggs. He picked them up, and they were miraculously restored.
Very little else of his life was recorded, and the history of his bodily remains was most notable to his sainthood. He died on July 2, 862. On his deathbed the bishop was said to have begged to be buried outside where people might pass over his grave and raindrops fall upon it. Consequently, British lore holds that Saint Swithun’s day foretells the weather.
July, it will rain for 40 days.
For forty days it will remain:
St. Swithun’s day if thou be fair:
For forty days ‘twill rain nae mare.
More than a hundred years after his death, Swithun was made patron of Winchester Cathedral. His body was transferred from its earthen grave to Æthelwold’s new cathedral, and the move was accompanied by many reported miracles. Subsequently, his body was divided among a number of smaller shrines. His head was taken to Canterbury Cathedral, while Peterborough Abbey came to be in possession of one arm. The Winchester shrine to Swithun was demolished in 1538 during the English Reformation, but a modern representation of it was rebuilt in the cathedral, so one can still visit with pleas for rain and egg repair.
Collect for Swithun
Almighty God, by whose grace we celebrate again the feast of your servant Swithun: grant that, as he governed with gentleness the people committed to his care, so we, rejoicing in our Christian inheritance, may always seek to build up your Church in unity and love; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Molly Brant was born in 1736 along the Mohawk River in present-day central New York. In an age when women, much less Native American women, rarely had a voice in public discourse, Molly Brant became a well-regarded Mohawk leader, helping to promote peaceful relations between the Iroquois nation and the British government during the Revolutionary War era. A dedicated Anglican, she came to be known by the Church as the “Witness to the Faith Among the Mohawks.”
Raised in the Ohio Territory, Molly Brant returned to her native village, where she quickly established herself as a leader among the Mohawk Nation. She sought to draw fellow Mohawks into the Anglican faith without dismissing their native culture and spirituality. Her work garnered the attention of Sir William Johnson, a widower and the superintendent of Northern Indian Affairs. She became his common-law wife, and together, they had nine children. As Johnson’s wife, Brant served as an influential and authoritative voice of the Iroquois people in dealing with the British and an essential factor in Johnson’s reception as superintendent among Native Americans. The respect and esteem the British held for Brant was not only unique during that era but it was also key to preserving peaceful relations between the two nations and cultures.
During the American Revolution, Brant remained loyal to Great Britain, providing lodging and food to British soldiers and uniting four of the six Iroquois nations as Loyalists. Two years into the war, she and her family were forced to flee to Onondaga, where she remained until the war’s end in order to avoid imprisonment by the Patriots. Despite her forced relocation, Brant continued to work for harmony among the Iroquois people and their European neighbors. Her deft leadership led one commander of the British military to declare that Brant was “far superior to that of all their chiefs put together.”
Upon the surrender of the British in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1783, Brant moved with her family to Cataraqui in Canada’s province of Ontario, where she served as a founding member of both the town of Kingston and its first Anglican church. She remained near Kingston until her death in 1796.
Collect for Molly Brant
Maker and lover of all creation, you endued Molly Brant with the gifts of justice and loyalty, and made her a wise and prudent clan mother in the household of the Mohawk nation: Draw us also toward the goal of our faith, that we may at last attain the full dignity of our nature in our true native land, where with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Swithin vs. Molly Brant Total Voters: 6,874
Swithin vs. Molly Brant
Total Voters: 6,874