jeudi 16 juillet 2015

Saint EUSTATHE (EUSTATHIUS, EUSTACE, EUSTAZIO) d'ANTIOCHE, patriarche. évêque et confesseur

Saint Eustathe d'Antioche

Patriarche d'Antioche, évêque et confesseur (+ v. 338)

Originaire d'Asie Mineure, il fut d'abord consacré évêque de Bérée (Alep) puis transféré à Antioche la Grande. Il prit une part active au concile œcuménique de Nicée. Les partisans de l'arianisme réussirent à le faire déposer sous de faux témoignages, le faisant accuser d'une liaison coupable où il aurait eu un enfant. L'empereur Constantin et sainte Hélène l'envoyèrent en exil en Thrace où il mourut peu après. Son innocence ne fut reconnue que quelques années plus tard lorsque cette femme confessa avoir agi sous la pression de plusieurs évêques partisans de l'arianisme.

21 février: commémoraison de saint Eustathe, évêque d'Antioche, célèbre par sa doctrine. Pour avoir pris la défense de la foi catholique, il fut envoyé en exil à Trajanopolis, en Thrace, par l'empereur Constance favorable aux ariens et il entra dans le repos du Seigneur vers 338. (martyrologe romain)

Choisi en 324 pour être patriarche d'Antioche, il rétablit la paix dans une Église divisée par l'arianisme. Avec saint Jacques de Nisibe, il participa à un concile dont les saints canons rappellent quel fut son souci d'avoir un clergé instruit et zélé. Accusé à son tour d'hérésie par des évêques jaloux, il fut exilé. Une sédition de la population d'Antioche en sa faveur, incita l'empereur Constantin l'éloigner plus encore et à le bannir en Thrace puis en Macédoine où il mourut. Justice lui fut rendue et son corps revint à Antioche. Saint Jérôme dit de lui qu'il fut l'un des tout premiers à combattre Arius et il loue ses très grandes connaissances théologiques.


Mgr Mirkis: "En soutenant les jeunes, nous les maintenons dans le pays. Il y aura ainsi des médecins, des pharmaciens et architectes, des ingénieurs"

Martyrologe romain


Eustathius of Antioch B (RM)

(also known as Eustace)

Born in Side, Pamphylia; died in Thrace, Greece, c. 335, or Illyricum, c. 337. Much of what we know about Eustace comes from Saint Athanasius. Confessor during a persecution by Diocletian of Licinius, Eustace was a learned, eloquent, and virtuous man. His ardent zeal for the purity of the faith caused him to be made bishop of Beroea, Syria. When Saint Philogonius of Antioch died c. 323, the weak and wavering bishop Paulinus succeeded him for a short time as patriarch. Saint Eustace was called to replace Paulinus, but he opposed the transfer to the third most important see because of his zeal for the purity of the faith, the quality most needed at that time in Antioch. He felt that the transfer of bishops leads to dangerous temptations of ambition and avarice. In various ways, Eustace was forced to accept the patriarchal see of Antioch against his will.

He attended the Council of Nicaea and concurred with his fellow bishops to forbid all translations of bishops from one see to another. During, before, and after the council, Eustace was a firm opponent of Arianism both in his preaching and in his writing.

Eustace was an outstanding bishop. Upon returning to Antioch, he convened a synod to unite the factions that had developed. He judiciously examined the character and faith of those seeking ordination. Many he rejected later became leaders of Arianism. He sent capable, virtuous men into other dioceses within his patriarchate to teach and encourage the faithful.

In a impolitic move, Eustace raised violent opposition against Eusebius of Caesarea, a suffragan bishop of Antioch, who was one of the Arian leaders and close to the throne. Together with Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, the bishop of Caesarea plotted to remove Saint Eustace from his see. They accused him of altering the Nicene Creed.

Eusebius of Nicomedia went to Jerusalem and there gathered like- minded Arians, including Theognis of Nicea, Eusebius of Caesarea, Patrophilus of Scythopolis, Actius of Lydda, Theodotus of Laudicea, and other. They returned to Antioch and assembled a synod in 331. They obtained the false testimony of a women, who said that Eustace had fathered her child. Eustace protested his innocence and alleged that tradition requires two or more witnesses before convicting a priest. Before her death she did declare before many priests that she had been bribed to make the charge and that Patriarch Eustace was innocent, the father of the child was another Eustace, a brazier.

The Arians also accused him of Sabellianism. Although the Catholic bishops present loudly protested against the injustice of these proceedings, the Arians pronounced a sentence of deposition against the saint. Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis hastened to inform Emperor Constantine of the decision. The people of Antioch raised a great sedition on this occasion, but Constantine was open to hearing the slanders presented by his friends. He ordered Eustace to Constantinople.

Before his departure from Antioch, the holy pastor assembled the people and exhorted them to remain steadfast in the true doctrine. Constantine banished Eustace, together with several of his priests and deacons, first into Thrace, as Saint Jerome and Saint John Chrysostom testify, then into Illyricum, as Theodoret adds (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

St. Eustathius, Patriarch of Antioch, Confessor

From St. Athanasius, Sozomen, Theodoret, l. 1, Hist. c. 6, St. Jerom, in Catal. c. 85. See Tillem. t. 7, p. 21. Ceillier, t. 4, and the Bollandists, Bosch in his Life, t. 4. Jul. p. 130, and Solier in Hist. Chron. Patr. Antioch. ante, t. 4, Jul. p. 35.

A.D. 338.

ST. EUSTATHIUS was a native of Sida, in Pamphylia, and with heroic constancy confessed the faith of Christ before the pagan persecutors, as St. Athanasius assures us, 1 though it does not appear whether this happened under Dioclesian or Licinius. He was learned, eloquent, and eminently endowed with all virtue, especially an ardent zeal for the purity of our holy faith. Being made bishop of Beræa, in Syria, he began in that obscure see to be highly considered in the church, insomuch that St. Alexander, of Alexandria, wrote to him in particular against Arius and his impious writings, in 323. St. Philogonius, bishop of Antioch, a prelate illustrious for his confession of the faith, in the persecution of Licinius, died in 323. One Paulinus succeeded him, but seems a man not equal to the functions of that high station; for, during the short time he governed that church, tares began to grow up among the good seed. To root these out, when that dignity became again vacant, in 324, the zeal and abilities of St. Eustathius were called for, and he was accordingly translated to this see, in dignity the next to Alexandria, and the third in the world. He vigorously opposed the motion, but was compelled to acquiesce. Indeed, translations of bishops, if made without cogent reasons of necessity, become, to many, dangerous temptations of ambition and avarice, and open a door to those fatal vices into the sanctuary. To put a bar to this evil, St. Eustathius, in the same year, assisting at the general council of Nice, zealously concurred with his fellow bishops to forbid for the time to come all removals of bishops from one see to another. 2 The new patriarch distinguished himself in that venerable assembly by his zeal against Arianism. Soon after his return to Antioch he held a council there to unite his church, which he found divided by factions. He was very strict and severe in examining into the characters of those whom he admitted into the clergy, and he constantly rejected all those whose principles, faith, or manners appeared suspected; among whom were several who became afterwards ringleaders of Arianism. Amidst his external employs for the service of others, he did not forget that charity must always begin at home, and he laboured in the first place to sanctify his own soul; but after watering his own garden he did not confine the stream there, but let it flow abroad to enrich the neighbouring soil, and to dispense plenty and fruitfulness all around. He sent into other diocesses that were subject to his patriarchate, men capable of instructing and encouraging the faithful. Eusebius, archbishop of Cæsarea, in Palestine, (which church was, in some measure, subject to Antioch,) favoured the new heresy, in such a manner as to alarm the zeal of our saint. 3 This raised a violent storm against him.

Eusebius of Nicomedia laid a deep plot with his Arian friends to remove St. Eustathius from Antioch, who had attacked Eusebius of Cæsarea, and accused him of altering the Nicene Creed. Hereupon, Eusebius of Nicomedia, pretending a great desire to see the city of Jerusalem, set out in great state, taking with him his confidant, Theognis of Nice. At Jerusalem they met Eusebius of Cæsarea, Patrophilus of Scythopolis, Aëtius of Lydda. Theodotus of Laodicea, and several others, all of the Arian faction: who returned with them to Antioch. There they assembled together, as in a Synod, in 331, and a debauched woman, whom the Arians had suborned, coming in, showed a child which she suckled at her breast, and declared that she had it by Eustathius. The saint protested his innocence, and alleged that the apostle forbids a priest to be condemned unless convicted by two or more witnesses. This woman, before her death, after a long illness, called in a great number of the clergy, and publicly declared to them the innocence of the holy bishop, and confessed that the Arians had given her money for this action, pretending that no perjury was implied in her oath, upon the frivolous and foolish plea that she had the child by a brazier of the city called Eustathius. 4 The Arians accused him also of Sabellianism, as Socrates and others testify; this being their general charge and slander against all who professed the orthodox faith.

The Catholic bishops who were present with Eustathius, cried out loudly against the injustice of these proceedings, but could not be heard, and the Arians pronounced a sentence of deposition against the saint; and Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis hastened to inform the Emperor Constantine of these proceedings. The Arian bishops invited Eusebius of Cæsarea to exchange his see for the patriarchal chair of Antioch; but he alleged the prohibition of the canons; and the Emperor Constantine commended his modesty, by a letter which Eusebius has inserted in his life of that prince. 5 We should have been more edified with his humility had this circumstance been only recorded by others. 6 This happened, not in 340, as Baronius and Petavius imagine, but in 330 or 331, as is manifest not only from the testimony of Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Philostorgius, but also from several circumstances of the affair. 7 The people of Antioch raised a great sedition on this occasion, but the Emperor Constantine, being prepossessed by the slanders of the two bishops, ordered St. Eustathius to repair to Constantinople, and thence sent him into banishment. The holy pastor assembled the people before his departure from Antioch, and exhorted them to remain steadfast in the true doctrine, which exhortations were of great weight in preserving many in the Catholic faith. St. Eustathius was banished, with several priests and deacons, first into Thrace, as St. Jerom and St. Chrysostom testify, and from thence into Illyricum, as Theodoret adds. Socrates and Sozomen confound him with a priest of Constantinople of the same name, when they tell us he was recalled by Jovian, and survived till the year 370; for St. Eustathius died thirty years before St. Meletius was advanced to the see of Antioch in 360, as Theodoret testifies. Nor was he mentioned in the council of Sardica, or in any of the disputes that followed; and our best critics and historians conclude him to have been dead in 337. Philippi, in Macedon, which, in the division of the empire into diocesses, was comprised in that of Illyricum, was the place of his death, 8 but his body was interred at Trajanopolis, in Thrace, from which city Calandion, one of his successors, caused it to be translated to Antioch, about the year 482, as Theodorus Lector informs us. 9t. Eustathius bore his exile with patience and perfect submission, and was under its disgraces and hardships greater and more glorious than whilst his zeal and other virtues shone with the brightest lustre on the patriarchal throne. We may please ourselves in those actions in which we seem to be something; into which, however, self-love, under a thousand forms, easily insinuates itself. But the maxims of our Divine Redeemer teach us that no circumstances are so happy for the exercise of the most heroic virtue as humiliations and distresses when sent by Providence. These put our love to the test, apply the remedy to the very root of our spiritual disorders, employ the most perfect virtues of meekness, forgiveness, and patience, and call forth our resignation, humility, and reliance on Providence; in these trials we learn most perfectly to die to our passions, to know ourselves, to feel our own nothingness and miseries, and with St. Paul to take pleasure in our infirmities. Here all virtue is more pure and perfect. A Christian suffering with patience and joy, bears in spirit the nearest resemblance to his crucified Master, and enters deepest into his most perfect sentiments of humility, meekness, and love: for Jesus on his cross is the model by which his disciples are bound to form themselves, which they no where can do with greater advantage than when they are in a like state of desolation and suffering.

Note 1. Hist. Arian ad Monachos, p. 346. [back]

Note 2. Conc. Nicæn. Can. 15. [back]

Note 3. That prelate had been educated at Cæsarea, where he studied with St. Pamphilus the martyr, whose name he afterwards added to his own. He suffered imprisonment with him for the faith about the year 309, but recovered his liberty without undergoing any severer trial, and was chosen archbishop of Cæsarea in 314. When Arius, in 320, retired from Alexandria into Palestine, having been deposed from the priesthood by St. Alexander the year before, Eusebius of Cæsarea and some other bishops were imposed upon by him, and received him favourably. Hereupon Arius wrote to Eusebius of Nicomedia, whom he calls brother to the other Eusebius of Cæsarea. Eusebius of Nicomedia was at that time of an advanced age, and had great interest with Constantine, who after the defeat of Licinius kept his court some time at Nicomedia as other emperors had done before him since Dioclesian had begun to reside in the East. This prelate was crafty and ambitious; his removal, procured by his intrigues, from his first see of Berytus to Nicomedia seems to have given occasion to the canon of the Nicene council, by which such translations were forbidden. Notwithstanding which, in defiance of so sacred a law, he afterwards procured himself to be again translated to the see of Constantinople, in 338, in the beginning of the reign of Constantius. The council of Sardica, in 347, confirmed the above-mentioned Nicene canon under pain of the parties being deprived even of lay communion at their death; but this arch-heretic died in 342. He openly defended not only the person, but also the errors of Arius; subscribed the definitions of the Nicene council for fear of banishment; but three months after, being the author of new tumults, he was banished by Constantine, and after three years recalled, upon giving a confession of faith in which he declared himself penitent, and professed that he adhered to the Nicene faith, as Theodoret relates. By this act of dissimulation he imposed upon the emperor, but he continued by every base art to support his heresy, and endeavoured to subvert the truth. Eusebius of Cæsarea held that see from 314 till his death in 339. He was always closely linked with the ringleaders of the heresy. Nevertheless, the learned Henry Valois, in his Prolegomena to his translation of this author’s Ecclesiastical History, pretends to excuse him from its errors, though he often boggled at the word Consubstantial. He certainly was so far imposed upon by Arius, as to believe that heretic admitted the eternity of the Divine Word; and in his writings many passages occur which prove the divinity and, as to the sense, the consubstantiality of the Son, whatever difficulties he formed as to the word. On which account Ceillier and many others affect to speak favourably, or at least tenderly of Eusebius in this respect, and are willing to believe that he did not at least constantly adhere to that capital error. Yet it appears very difficult entirely to clear him from it, though he may seem to have attempted to steer a course between the tradition of the church and the novelties of his friends. See Baronius ad an. 380, Witasse Nat. Alexander, and the late Treatise in folio, against the Arian heresy, compiled by a Maurist Benedictin monk. Photius, in a certain work given us by Montfaucon, (in Bibl. Coisliana, p. 348,) roundly charges Eusebius with Arianism and Origenism.

  Eusebius, whose conduct was so inconstant and equivocal, shines to most advantage in his works, especially those which he composed in defence of Christianity before the Arian contest arose. The first of these is his book against Hierocles, who, under Dioclesian, was a persecuting judge at Nicomedia, and afterwards rewarded for his cruelty against the Christians with the government of Egypt. In a book he wrote he made Apollonius Tyanæus superior to Christ. But Eusebius demonstrates the history of this magician, written by Philostratus, when he taught rhetoric at Rome, one hundred years after the death of that magician, to be false and contradictory in most of its points, doubtful in others, and trifling in all. About the time he was made bishop he conceived a design of two works, which showed as much the greatness of his genius, as the execution did the extent of his knowledge. The first of these he called The Preparation, the other The Demonstration of the Gospel. In the first he, with great erudition, confutes idolatry, in fifteen books, showing that the Greeks borrowed the sciences and many of their gods from the Egyptians, whose true history agrees with that of Moses; but the fictions of their theology are monstrous, impious, and condemned by their own learned men; that their oracles, which were only a chain of impostures and frauds, or the responses of devils, never attained to any infallible knowledge of contingencies, and were silenced by a power which they acknowledged superior. He also shows the Unity of God, and the truth of his revealed religion as ancient as the world. In his Demonstration of the Gospel, in ten books, he shows that the Jewish law in every point clearly points out Christ and the gospel. These books of Evangelical Preparation and Demonstration furnish more proofs, testimonies, and arguments for the truth of the Christian religion than any other work of the ancients on that subject.

  Eusebius’s two books against Marcellus of Ancyra, and three On Ecclesiastical Theology are a confutation of Sabellianism. His topography or alphabetical explication of the places mentioned in the Old Testament, is most exact and useful. It was translated into Latin, and augmented by St. Jerom. Eusebius’s useful Comments on the Psalms were published by Montfaucon. (Collect. Nova Script. Græc. Paris, 1706.) His fourteen Discourses or Opuscula, published by F. Sirmond, (Op. Sirmond, t. 1,) are esteemed genuine, though not mentioned by the ancients. His discourse on the Dedication of the Church at Tyre, rebuilt after the persecution, in 315, contains a curious description of that ceremony and of the structure. By his letter to his Church of Cæsarea, after the conclusion of the council of Nice, he recommended to his flock the definitions and creed of that assembly. His panegyric of Constantine was delivered at Constantinople in presence of that prince, who then celebrated the thirtieth year of his reign by public games. The praises are chiefly drawn from the destruction of idolatry; but study reigns in this composition more than nature, and renders the discourse tedious, though the author took some pains to polish the style. His four books of the Life of Constantine were written in 338, the year after that emperor’s death. The style is diffusive, and the more disagreeable by being more laboured. Photius reproaches the author for dissembling or suppressing the chief circumstances relating to Arius, and his condemnation in the council of Nice.

  The Chronicle of Eusebius was a work of immense labour, in two parts; the first called his Chronology, contained the distinct successions of the kings and rulers of the principal nations from the beginning of the world; the second part, called the Chronicle or the Rule of Times, may be called a table of the first, and unites all the particular chronologies of different nations in one. This second part was translated into Latin, and augmented by St. Jerom. The first part was lost when Joseph Scaliger gathered the scattered fragments from George Syncellus, Cedrenus, and the Alexandrian Chronicle; but Scaliger ought to have pointed out his sources; and has inserted many things which certainly belong not to Eusebius.

  Our author’s name has been rendered most famous by his ten books of Church History, which he brings down to the defeat of Licinius, in 323, when he first wrote it, though he revised it again in 326. He collected the Acts of the Martyrs of Palestine, an abstract of which he added to the eighth book of his History. Rufinus elegantly translated this work into Latin, reduced to nine books, to which he added two others, wherein he brings down his history to the death of Theodosius. Eusebius copied very much Julius Africanus in his Chronicle; and in his History, St. Hegesippos (who had compiled a History from Christ to 170) and others. This invaluable work is not exempt from some mistakes and capital omissions; nor was the author much acquainted with the affairs of the Western Church. (See Ceillier, t. 4, p. 258,) &c. Christophorson, bishop of Chichester, elegantly translated this History into Latin, but changed the manner of dividing the chapters. The translation of the learned Henry Velesius is most accurate. Eusebius was one of the most learned prelates of antiquity, and a man of universal reading; but he did not much study to polish his discourses, which is the common fault of those who make learning and knowledge their chief business. [back]

Note 4. Theodoret, l. 1, c. 20, 21. S. Hier. l. 3, in Rufin, &c. [back]

Note 5. Eus. l. 4, de Vit. Constant. c. 61, p. 518. [back]

Note 6. Sozom. l. 2, c. 19, p. 469. [back]

Note 7. See Tillemont, Ceillier, Cave, Hist. Littér. p. 187, t. 1, and Solier, the Bollandist. Hist. Patr. Ant. c. 24, p. 36. [back]

Note 8. Theodoret, l. 1, c. 20. Theodorus Lector, l. 2, c. 1, p. 547. Theophanes, p. 114. See Tillem. note 4, p. 653. [back]

Note 9. St. Jerom (ep. 126, p. 38,) calls St. Eustathius a loud sounding trumpet, and says he was the first who employed his pen against the Arians. The same father admires the extent of his knowledge, saying that it was consummate both in sacred and profane learning, (ep. 84, p. 327.) His just praises are set forth by St. Chrysostom in an entire panegyric; and Sozomen assures us (l. 1, c. 2,) that he was universally admired both for the sanctity of his life, and the eloquence of his discourses. The elegant works which he composed against the Arians were famous in the fifth century, but have not reached us. But we have still his Treatise on the Pythonissa or Witch of Endor, published by Leo Allatius, with a curious Dissertation, and reprinted in the eighth tome of the Critici Sacri. In it the author undertakes to prove against Origen that this witch neither did nor could call up the soul of Samuel, but only a spectre or devil representing Samuel, in order to deceive Saul. He clearly teaches that before the coming of Christ the souls of the just rested in Abraham’s bosom; and that none could enter heaven before Christ had opened it; but that Christians enjoy an advantage above the patriarchs and prophets, in being united with Christ immediately after their death if they have lived well. This treatise is well written, and justifies the commendations which the ancients give to this great prelate and eloquent orator. Sozomen justly calls his writings admirable, as well for the purity of his style as for the sublimity of thought, the beauty of the expression, or the curious choice of the matter. Nothing more enhances his virtue, than the invincible constancy and patience with which he suffered the most reproachful accusation with which his enemies charged him, and the unjust deposition and banishment which were inflicted on him. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

Sant’ Eustazio di Antiochia Vescovo

21 febbraio

† Traianopoli, Tracia, 338 circa

Sant’Eustazio, vescovo di Antiochia al tempo dell’imperatore ariano Costanzo, per la sua presa di posizione in difesa della fede cattolica fu esiliato a Traianopoli, in Tracia, dove morì nel 338 circa.

Etimologia: Eustazio = che sta bene, dal latino Eustathius, tratto dal greco Eystàtios

Martirologio Romano: Commemorazione di sant’Eustazio, vescovo di Antiochia, che, illustre per dottrina, sotto l’imperatore ariano Costanzo fu mandato in esilio a Tuzla in Tracia per aver difeso la fede cattolica e qui riposò nel Signore.

Oriundo di Sida in Panfilia, Eustazio fu un uomo eloquente, erudito e virtuoso, secondo quanto ci è stato tramandato. Designato vescovo della città siriana di Berea, meritò intorno al 324 di essere elevato alla sede di Antiochia, che allora deteneva ancora il terzo posto per importanza nella gerarchia della Chiesa universale, dopo Roma ed Alessandria. L’anno seguente fu accolto con tutti gli onori al concilio di Nicea, ove si distinse per la sua totale opposizione all’arianesimo. Quale capo della Chiesa di Antiochia, aveva anche giurisdizione sulle diocesi circostanti, nelle quali insediò vescovi degni d’istruire e guidare il proprio gregge.

La sua netta opposizione all’arianesimo lo portò ad uno scontro frontale con Eusebio, vescovo di Cesarea, celebre “padre della storia della Chiesa”, che per ripicca non lo nominò mai nella sua preziosa opera. Eustazio lo aveva infatti accusato di alterare il senso del credo niceno, scatenando così una feroce lotta tra i vescovi ortodossi e quelli che ancora parteggiavano per la dottrina ariana.

Eusebio, assiduo frequentatore della corte imperiale, riuscì nel 330 a persuadere Costantino a deporre Eustazio, ma quando l’anno seguente gli fu offerta proprio tale sede episcopale, preferì rifiutare. Il legittimo vescovo fu comunque esiliato a Traianopoli in Tracia, ma prima di lasciare la sua cattedra, parlò al suo gregge con una forza tale che parecchi decisero di dare vita ad una fazione e suo sostegno, tenacemente opposta ai vescovi ariani. Eustazio morì infine in esilio verso l’anno 338.

Scrisse parecchie opere, purtroppo andate tutte perdute. La più importante di esse era il trattato “Adversus Arianos” in otto volumi. A parte rari framment, l’unico brano pervenutoci appartiene al trattato antiorigenista “De engastrimutho”, noto come “La pitonessa di Endor contro Origene” o “Il Ventriloquo contro Origene”. Pare che la sua teologia fosse la medesima della scuola di Antiochia, con un approccio alla Scrittura decisamente più storico e critico rispetto a quello di Alessandria. Ciò lo portò anche ad essere talvolta sospettato di nestorianesimo e sabellianismo. Secondo la prima teoria in Cristo sussisterebbero due persone separate, mentre la seconda vuole Dio assolutamente uno e perciò i nomi “Padre” “Figlio” e “Spirito Santo” indicherebbero in Dio solo differenti modi ed azioni, ma non persone distinte.

Autore: Fabio Arduino


mercredi 15 juillet 2015

Saint SWITHUN (SWITHIN) de WINCHESTER, religieux bénédictin, évêque et confesseur

Saint Svithun (also spelled Swithin, Swithun) at Stavanger Cathedral

Saint Swithin

Évêque de Winchester ( 862)

Chancelier du roi d'Angleterre Egbert et précepteur de son fils, puis conseiller pour les affaires ecclésiastiques, nommé enfin évêque de Winchester, il garda toujours, dans ses hautes fonctions, le souci des pauvres et un ferme éloignement de toute occasion de chute pécheresse, ce qui ne manquait pas à la cour royale.

À Winchester en Angleterre, l'an 862, saint Swithun, évêque, remarquable par son austérité de vie et son amour des pauvres. Il construisit beaucoup d'églises qu'il visitait en allant toujours à pied.

Martyrologe romain


Swithun shown in the Benedictional of St. ÆthelwoldWinchester, 10th century. British Library, London.

Saint Swithun

Also known as

  • Swithin
  • Svithin



Raised in an abbeyPriestChaplain to Egbert, King of the West Saxons. Tutor to prince Ethelwolf. Bishop of WinchesterEnglandMiracles associated with his relics. His shrine was destroyed during the Reformation. Almost 60 ancient British churches were named for him.

His patronage of the weather arose when monks tried to translate his body from an outdoor grave to a golden shrine in the Cathedral in 871. Swithun apparently did not approve as it started raining for 40 days. The weather on the festival of his translation indicates, according to an old rhyme, the weather for the next forty days:

Saint Swithun’s day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
Saint Swithun’s day, if thou be fair,
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.






Saint Swithun's memorial shrine in the retrochoir of Winchester Cathedral where the saint's relics were originally kept.

Swithun (Swithin) of Winchester, OSB B (RM)

Born in Wessex, England; died at Winchester, England, July 2, 862. Saint Swithun was educated at the Old Abbey, Winchester, and was ordained (it is uncertain whether or not he was a monk). He became chaplain to King Egbert of the West Saxons, who appointed him tutor of his son Ethelwulf, and was one of the king's counselors. Swithun was named bishop of Winchester in 852 when Ethelwulf succeeded his father as king. Swithun built several churches and was known for his humility and his aid to the poor and needy. His veneration as a saint appears to date from the removal of his bones from the churchyard into the cathedral a century after his death. A long-held superstition declares it will rain for 40 days if it rains on his feast day, but the reason for and origin of this belief are unknown (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney).

Statue of Saint Swithun originally on the façade of Winchester Cathedral; now housed in the Crypt.

St. Swithin


Bishop of Winchester; died 2 July, 862.

Very little is known of this saint's life, for his biographers constructed their "Lives" long after his death and there is hardly any mention of him in contemporary documents. Swithin was one of the two trusted counsellors of Egbert, King of the West Saxons (d. 839), helping him in ecclesiastical matters, while Ealstan of Sherborne was his chief advisor He probably entrusted Swithin with the education of his son Ethelwulf and caused the saint to be elected to the Bishopric of Winchester in succession to Helmstan. His consecration by Ceolnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, seems to have taken place on 30 October, 852. On his deathbed Swithin begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it.

More than a century later (931) his body was translated with great pomp to a shrine within the new church erected by Bishop Ethelwulf (d. 984). A number of miraculous cures took place and Swithin was canonized by popular acclamation. In 1093 his remains were again translated to the new church built by Bishop Walkelin. The shrine was destroyed and the relics scattered in 1538.

It has often been said that the saint was a Benedictine monk and even Prior of Winchester but there is no evidence for this statement. From the first translation of his relics in 984 till the destruction of the shrine St. Swithin was the patron of Winchester Cathedral. He is best known from the popular superstition attached to his name and expressed in the following rhyme:

St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair. 

There have been many attempts to explain the origin of this belief, but none have proved generally satisfactory. A similar belief attaches in France to 8 June, the feast of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius, and to other feasts in different countries (see Notes and Queries, 1885, XII, 137, 253). St. Swithin's feast is kept on 15 July, the date of his first translation, and is retained in the Anglican Calendar.


The materials for the saint's life will be found in Acta SS., July, I, 321 sqq. See also POTTHAST, Wegweiser, 1588; HUNT in Dict. Nat. Biog., s.v. Swithun; HARDY, Descriptive Catalogue, I (1862), ii, 513 sqq.

Webster, Douglas Raymund. "St. Swithin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 25 Oct. 2020 <>.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


July 15

St. Swithin or Swithun, Bishop and Patron of Winchester, Confessor

THIS city had been famous in the time of the Romans, and a station of their troops being called by Ptolemy and Antoninus, Venta. It became afterwards the chief seat of the West-Saxon kings. Among these, Kynegils, having received the faith about the year 635, gave to St. Birinus the city of Dorcester for his episcopal see, but founded a church at Winchester, which was dedicated by St. Birinus to St. Peter, according to the Saxon Chronicle, or to the Holy Trinity, according to Thomas Rudburn. Wini, the third bishop of the West-Saxons, fixed his see at Winchester, and this church became one of the most flourishing cathedrals of all Britain. St. Swithun, called in the original Saxon language Swithum, received in this church the clerical tonsure, and put on the monastic habit in the Old Monastery, which had been founded by king Kynegils. He was of noble parentage, passed his youth in innocent simplicity, and in the study of grammar, philosophy, and the holy scriptures. He was an accomplished model of all virtues when he was promoted to holy orders by Helinstan or Helmstan, bishop of Winchester.

Being ordained priest, he was made provost or dean of the Old Monastery. His learning, piety, and prudence moved Egbert, king of the West-Saxons, to make him his priest, under which title the saint subscribed a charter granted to the abbey of Croyland in 833. That great prince committed to his care the education of his son Ethelwolf, and made use of his counsels in the government of his kingdom. A degeneracy of manners had crept into the courts of the Mercians and Northumbrians, and their government was weakened by intestine divisions and several revolutions. Egbert having first vanquished Swithred king of the East-Saxons, and added his kingdom to his own, upon several provocations, invaded Mercia, and conquered it in 828, but soon after restored Withlaf, whom he had expelled, to the throne of that kingdom on condition he should hold the crown of him, and pay him an annual tribute. He treated in the same manner Eandred, the last king of the Northumbers, and made him tributary, after he had with a great army laid waste that province. The kingdom of the East Angles submitted to him about the same time with Mercia, with which it had been long engaged in war, and was thereby reduced to extreme poverty. Kent being at that time tributary to Mercia, it fell also to the share of the conqueror. After this Egbert assembled all the great men of his kingdom both clergy and laity, in a council at Wincester, in which he enacted that this kingdom should ever after be called England, and all its subjects Englishmen. At the same time he was again crowned and from that year, 829, was styled king of England. Thus were the names of Saxons and Jutes abolished among us, and an end was put to the heptarchy, or division of this nation into seven kingdoms, which began to be formed by Hengist in 457, when he took the title of king, seven years after his arrival in this island, in 449. Towards the latter end of Egbert’s reign the Danes first began to infest England. This general name historians give to those shoals of pirates which were composed not only of Danes, but also of Norwegians, Goths, Sweones or Swedes, and Vandals, as Eginhard, Henry of Huntingdon, and others assure us. 1

King Egbert reigned thirty-seven years over the West Saxons, and nine years over all England, dying in the year 838, or according to others in 837. Ethelwolf, his only surviving son, had been educated in piety and learning under the care of St. Swithin, then provost of the Old Monastery in Winchester, 2 and had been ordained subdeacon by bishop Helmstan, as Rudburn, Huntingdon, and others relate. But upon the death of his elder brother, whose name is not known, he was dispensed with by Pope Leo to marry, and returning again to a secular life, helped his father in his wars, and after his death was advanced to the throne. He married Osberge, a lady of remarkable piety, and had four sons by her, Ethelbald, Ethelbright, Ethelred, and Alfred. He governed his kingdom by the prudent advice of Alstan bishop of Shirborne, in temporal affairs; and by that of St. Swithin in ecclesiastical matters, especially those which concerned his own soul. And though the king was of a slow disposition, yet by the assistance of these worthy counsellors, he reigned prudently and happily; the Danes were often repulsed, and many noble designs for the good of the church and state were begun, and prosperously executed. Bearing always the greatest reverence to St. Swithin, whom he called his master and teacher, he procured him, upon the death of Helmstan, to be chosen bishop of Winchester, to which see he was consecrated by Ceolnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, in 852. Hearne has given us the profession of faith which he made on that occasion, according to custom, in the hands of the archbishop. 3 William of Malmesbury says, that though this good bishop was a rich treasure of all virtues, those in which he took most delight were humility and charity to the poor; and in the discharge of his episcopal functions he omitted nothing belonging to a true pastor. He built divers churches, and repaired others; and made his journeys on foot, accompanied with his clerks, and often by night to avoid ostentation. Being to dedicate any church, he with all humility used to go barefoot to the place. His feasting was not with the rich, but with the needy and the poor. His mouth was always open to invite sinners to repentance, and to admonish those who stood to beware of falling. He was most severe to himself, and abstemious in his diet, never eating to satisfy his appetite, but barely to sustain nature; and as to sleep, he admitted no more than what after long watching and much labour was absolutely necessary. He was always delighted with psalms and spiritual canticles, and in conversation would bear no discourse but what tended to edification.

By his counsel and advice King Ethelwolf, in a Mycel synod, or great council of the nation, in 854, enacted a new law by which he gave the tithes, or tenth part of his land, throughout the kingdom to the church, exempt and free from all taxations and burthens, with an obligation of prayers in all churches for ever for his own soul, on every Wednesday, &c. This charter, to give it a more sacred sanction, he offered on the altar of St. Peter at Rome in the pilgrimage which he made to that city in 855. He likewise procured it to be confirmed by the pope. 4 He carried with him to Rome his youngest and best beloved son, Alfred, rebuilt there the school for the English, and ordered to be sent every year to Rome one hundred mancuses 5 for the pope, one hundred for the church of St. Peter, and as much for that of St. Paul, to furnish them with lights on Easter Eve. He extended the Romescot, or Peterpence, to his whole kingdom. He reigned two years after his return from Rome, and died in 857. He ordained that throughout all his own hereditary lands every ten families shall maintain one poor person with meat, drink, and apparel; from whence came the corrodies, which still remain in divers places. St. Swithin departed to eternal bliss, which he had always thirsted after, on the 2d of July, 862, in the reign of King Ethelbert. His body was buried, according to his order, in the churchyard, where his grave might be trodden on by passengers.

About one hundred years after, in the days of King Edgar his relics were taken up by St. Ethelwold, then bishop of Winchester, and translated into the church in 964. On which occasion Malmesbury affirms that such a number of miraculous cures of all kinds were wrought, as was never in the memory of man known to have been in any other place. Lanfrid, in the original Saxon Lantfred, called by Leland an illustrious doctor, being then a monk at Winchester, wrote, in 980, a history of this translation, and of the miraculous cures of a blind man, and many others, through the intercession of this saint, which history has never been printed: though we have two beautiful fair manuscript copies of it, the one in the Cotton, the other in the king’s library in the inclosure of Westminster Abbey. 6 In the reign of William the Conqueror, Walkelyn, bishop of Winchester, a Norman, and the king’s relation, laid the foundation of the new church in 1079, which he lived to finish with the abbey, so that in 1093, the monks, in the presence of almost all the bishops and abbots of England, came in great joy from the old to the new monastery, and on the feast of St. Swithin, the shrine of this saint was in another solemn procession translated from the old to the new church; and on the next day the bishop’s men began to demolish the old abbey. William of Wickham, the celebrated chancellor of England in the reign of Edward III., and founder of a great college in Oxford, in 1379, added the nave and west front to this cathedral, which is now standing. This church was first dedicated to the Holy Trinity, under the patronage of St. Peter; afterwards by St. Ethelwold, in presence of King Etheldred, St. Dunstan, and eight other bishops, to St. Swithin, as Redburn relates, in 980. 7 King Henry VIII., in 1540, commanded this cathedral to be called no longer St. Swithin’s, but of the Holy Trinity. 8

St. Swithin is commemorated in the Roman martyrology on the 2d of July, which was the day of his death; but his chief festival in England was on the 15th of the same month, the day of the translation of his relics. See the calendar prefixed to the chronicle entitled Scala Mundi in a fair MS. in folio in the library of the English college at Douay; also the Sarum breviary and missal. An arm of St. Swithin was kept in the abbey of Peterborough, as is mentioned by Hugh Candidus, or White, in his accurate history of that monastery, published by Mr. Spark, p. 1723. The abbey of Hyde was first built within the precincts of the cathedral by King Edward the Elder, in pursuance of his father, Alfred’s, will, for secular canons, over whom St. Grimbald was intended to preside, had not his death prevented it. These canons, after sixty years’ continuance, yielded this church to the monks whom, in 964, St. Ethelwold brought in; from which time this abbey was called Newminster till it was translated by King Henry I. and the Bishop William Giffard, to a place near the walls of the city called Hyde. Of this magnificent abbey not so much as the walls are left standing, though in it lay the remains of King Edward, his son Alfred, his daughter St. Eadburga, &c. Its church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, St. Peter, and St. Grimbald. See the short life of St. Swithin, written by Wolstan, a monk of Winchester, dedicated to St. Elphege, then bishop of that city, in 1001, but translated to Canterbury in 1006. It is published by Mabillon, sæc. 5. Ben. p. 628. See also Malmesbury, t. 2. de Pontif. Robert of Glocester’s Chronicle in verse, published by Mr. Herne. Thomas Rudburn, Historia Major Wintoniensis, published by Wharton, t. 1. p. 200. Lord Clarendon, and Sam. Gale, on the Antiquities of Winchester, and Pinius the Bollandist, t. 1. Julij, ad diem 2. p. 321. Also, S. Swithuni vita et miracula per Lamfridum monachum Winton. MSS. in Bibl. Regia Londini, xv. c. vii. 1.

Note 1. The barbarians who inhabited the northern coasts of the Baltic were called by one general name, Normans; and the Sclavi, Vandals, and divers other nations were settled on the southern coast, as Eginhard, Helmold, and others testify. [back]

Note 2. The authorities produced by Tho. Rudburn, a monk of the Old Monastery in Winchester, in 1450, to prove St. Swithun to have been some time public professor of divinity at Cambridge, are generally esteemed suppositions. See Rudburn, l. 3, c. 2, Hist. Maj. Wintoniensis, apud Wharton, Anglia Sacra, and the History of the University of Cambridge. [back]

Note 3. Hearne, Teat. Roffens, p. 269. [back]

Note 4. See Ingulph. Asser. Redborne. [back]

Note 5. The value of a mancuse is not known; it is thought to have been about the same with that of a mark. [back]

Note 6. Casleu and B. Nicholson falsely call this the life of St. Swithin; and it appears from Leland that Lantfred never wrote his life, which himself sufficiently declares in the history of his miracles. The contrary seems a mistake in Pits, Bale, and Thomas Rudburn, p. 223. Rudburn manifestly confounds Wolstan with Lantfred. [back]

Note 7. Hist. Major. Wintom. p. 223. Vita metrice S. Swithuni per Wolstanum monachum Winton. ib. 2. [back]

Note 8. At the east end of this cathedral is the place which in ancient times was esteemed most sacred, underneath which was the cemetery or resting place of many saints and kings who were interred there with great honour. At present behind the high altar there is a transverse wall, against which we see the marks where several of their statues, being very small, were placed, with their names under each pedestal in a row; “Kinglisus Rex. S. Birinus Ep. Kingwald Rex. Egbertus R. Adulphus (i. e. Ethelwolphus) R. Elured R. filius ejus. Edwardus R. junior Adhelstanus R. filius ejus (Sta. Maria D. Jesus in the middle.) Edredus R. Edgarus R. Alwynus Ep. Ethelred R. Cnutus R. Hardecanutus R. filius ejus,” &c. Underneath, upon a fillet were written these verses:

 “Corpora Sanctorum hic sunt in pace sepulta;
  Ex Meritis quorum fulgent miracula multa.”

At the foot of these, a little eastwards, is a large flat grave-stone, which had the effigies of a bishop in brass, said to be that of St. Swithin. See Lord Clarendon, and Samuel Gale, On the Antiquities of Winchester pp. 29, 30. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

Golden Legend – Life of Saint Swithin

Here followeth the Life of Saint Swithin, Bishop.

Saint Swithin, the holy confessor, was born beside Winchester in the time of Saint Egbert, king. He was the seventh king after Kenulf that Saint Birinus christened. For Saint Austin christened not all England in Saint Ethelbert’s days, but Saint Birinus christened the west part of England in the days of Kenulf the king. And at that time this holy Saint Swithin served our Lady so devoutly that all people that knew him had great joy of his holiness, and Elmeston, that was in that time Bishop of Winchester, made him priest. And then he lived a straighter living than he did before, and he became then so holy in living that King Egbert made him his chancellor and chief of his council, and set Ethulf his son and his heir under his rule and guiding, and prayed him to take heed to him that he might be brought up virtuously. And within short time after the king died, and then his son Ethult was made king after him. And he guided this land full well and wisely, that it increased greatly in good living, through the counsel of Saint Swithin. And when Elmeston the Bishop of Winchester was dead, Swithin was made Bishop there after him, whereof the people were full glad, and by his holy living he caused the people to live virtuously, and to pay their tithes to God and holy church. And if any church fell down, or was in decay, Saint Swithin would anon amend it at his own cost. Or if any church were not hallowed, he would go thither afoot and hallow it. For he loved no pride, ne to ride on gay horses, ne to be praised ne flattered of the people, which in these days such things be used over much. God cease it.

Saint Swithin guided full well his bishopric, and did much good to the town of Winchester in his time. He did do make without the west gate of the town a fair bridge of stone at his proper cost. And on a time there came a woman over the bridge with her lap full of eggs, and a reckless fellow struggled and wrestled with her, and brake all her eggs. And it happed that this holy bishop came that way the same time, and bade the woman let him see her eggs, and anon he lift up his hand and blessed the eggs, and they were made whole and sound, ever each one, by the merits of this holy bishop, and being then glad she thanked God and this holy man for the miracle that was done to her.

And soon after died King Ethulf, and his son Egbert reigned after him. And after him was Ethelbert king; and in the third year of his reign died this blessed bishop Saint Swithin. And when he should die, he charged his men to bury him in the churchyard, for the people should not worship him after his death. For he loved no pomp by his life, ne none would have after his death. He passed to our Lord the year of grace eight hundred and six. And he lay in the churchyard, ere he was translated, a hundred and nine years and odd days. But in the time of holy king Edgar his body was translated and put in a shrine in the abbey of Winchester by Saint Dunstan and Ethelwold. And the same year was Saint Edward, king and martyr shrined at Shaftesbury. These two bishops, Dunstan and Ethelwold, were warned by our Lord to see that these two holy Saints, Swithin and Edward, should be worshipfully shrined, and so they were within short time after. And a holy man warned Ethelwold whilst he lay sick, to help that these two holy bodies might be shrined, and then he should be perfectly whole, and so endure to his life’s end; and the token is that, ye shall find on Saint Swithin’s grave two rings of iron nailed fast thereon. And as soon as he set hand on the rings they came off of the stone, and no token was seen in the stone, where they were fastened in. And when they had taken up the stone from the grave, they set the rings to the stone again, and anon they fastened to it by themselves. And then this holy bishop gave laud and praising to our Lord for this miracle. And at the opening of the grave of Saint Swithin, such a sweet odour and savour issued out that king Edgar and all the multitude of people were fulfilled with heavenly sweetness, and a blind man received there his sight again, and many were healed of divers sickness and maladies by the merits of this holy saint, Saint Swithin, to whom let us pray that he be our advocate to the good Lord for us, etc.


San Swithun di Winchester Vescovo

2 luglio

Wessex, Inghilterra, 800 c. - 2 luglio 862

Emblema: Bastone pastorale

Martirologio Romano: A Winchester in Inghilterra, san Swithun, vescovo, che fu insigne per l’austerità e l’amore per i poveri e fondò numerose chiese, che visitava andando sempre a piedi.

A causa della trascuratezza dei suoi contemporanei, non si hanno notizie di un certo rilievo sulla sua vita, né delle sue parole, né delle sue conversazioni, che fossero state riportate per le future generazioni.
Swithun visse nel IX secolo, fu cappellano reale del re Egberto di Wessex e tutore del figlio del re, principe Ethelwulf, che governò poi dall’839 all’858.

E su richiesta del re Ethelwulf, divenne vescovo di Winchester, allora capitale dell’Inghilterra; fu consacrato da Ceolnoth arcivescovo di Canterbury il 30 ottobre 852.

Governò la diocesi dieci anni, perché morì il 2 luglio 862; il re Ethelwold, il 15 luglio 971, fece trasferire le reliquie nella cattedrale, coincise con questo avvenimento la caduta di un’abbondantissima pioggia, tale che fu ritenuta segno della potenza del santo vescovo, evidentemente si era in periodo di prolungata siccità.

Da quel giorno si dice che se piove nel giorno di s. Swithun (15 luglio) pioverà anche per i seguenti 40 giorni. Da noi si dice la stessa cosa per s. Barbara e per s. Caterina d’Alessandria.

Era invocato per ottenere la pioggia, il suo culto che prese sviluppo dal secolo X, si estese per la fama di essere un santo guaritore, sia nell’isola di Wight, sia in Francia.

Nel 1093 il suo corpo fu di nuovo trasferito dalla vecchia alla nuova cattedrale di Winchester; la sua festa celebrata il 2 luglio per tutto il Medioevo, fu poi man mano sostituita al 15 luglio, giorno della prima traslazione.

Autore: Antonio Borrelli