Saints Osmund, Swithun and Bonaventure


Today we are celebrating Saint Osmund, late eleventh century Bishop of Salisbury and a significant presence in the country amongst those who came here through the Norman conquest.  He was involved with the Domesday Book, saw through the completion of the cathedral at Old Sarum in 1092 and was William the Conqueror’s chaplain. Liturgically his reforming work formed a basis for the later Old Sarum rites, that were then widely in use. 

Yesterday the commemorations were to two men whose lives have a warmer appeal to me: Swithun and Bonaventure.  We had a nice sunny day, which was just as well as you will recall that should it rain on St Swithun’s day it will rain for 40 days thereafter.  The story goes back to the time when, as Bishop of Winchester, Swithun arranged that when he die he would be buried in the ground outside the old cathedral where the rain could fall on him and people could walk over him.  When the new cathedral was built they decided to remove him from his grave in the open air and re-bury his remains within the cathedral, so forming a shrine.  This resulted in storms for some days.  The people of that time believed these were showing Swithun’s disapproval.  It’s funny how these things keep going….

Bonaventure was a later follower of St Francis and one who, in some respects, is responsible for how the Franciscans are formed today.  He was a precise and ordered person, who very much believed in the principles that St Francis espoused, except for the fact that study would be encouraged and books allowed in the friaries - aspects that Francis had not wanted.  So the principle of preaching by the example of one’s own life lived for God and neighbour, was then coupled with the careful study that helped create the order which we so admire in the Franciscans to this day - and amongst whom Lindy Cameron is now serving her curacy.

John Mann