St Swithun, Bishop & Confessor: Missa “Sacerdotes tui“
Saint Swithin Swithun (or Swithin, Old English: Swīþhūn; died c. 862) was a Saxon bishop. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. His feast day is 15 July and his emblems are rain drops and apples.
Swithin was chaplain to Egbert, the 802-839 king of Wessex. Egbert’s son Ethelwulf, whom Swithin educated, made him bishop of Winchester in 852.
Only one miracle is attributed to Swithin while he was alive. An old lady’s eggs had been smashed by workmen building a church. Swithin picked the broken eggs up and, it is said, they miraculously became whole again.
And if any church fell down, or was in decay, S. 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…
The Golden Legend, a medieval book of saints’ stories
Swithin died on 2 July 862. According to tradition, he had asked to be buried humbly. His grave was just outside the west door of the Old Minster, so that people would walk across it and rain fall on it in accordance with Swithin’s wishes. William of Malmesbury recorded that the bishop left instructions that his body should be buried outside the church, ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxius [where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high], which has been taken as indicating that the legend was already well known in the 12th century.
On 15 July 971 though, Swithin’s remains were dug up and moved to a shrine in the cathedral by Bishop Ethelwold. Miraculous cures were associated with the event, and Swithin’s feast day is the date of the removal of his remains, not his death day. However, the removal was also accompanied by ferocious and violent rain storms that lasted 40 days and 40 nights and are said to indicate the saint’s displeasure at being moved. This is probably the origin of the legend that if it rains on Saint Swithun’s feast day, the rain will continue for 40 more days. Saint Swithin is still seen as the patron of Winchester Cathedral.
INTROIT Psalm 131: 9-10
Let Thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with justice, and let Thy saints rejoice: for Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of Thy anointed. V. O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
God, who dost gladden us by the merits and intercession of thy blessed confessor bishop Swithun, grant us this boon, that we who ask for his good offices may obtain them through the gift of thy grace. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration S. Henry Emperor & Confessor
O God, Who on this day took St. Henry, Your Confessor, to the everlasting kingdom from the throne of an earthly empire; we humbly beseech You, that as You enabled him, protected by the abundance of Your grace, to overcome the temptations of the world, so grant that we, in emulation of him, may shun the allurements of this world and come to You with pure hearts. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Hebrews 7: 23-27
Lesson from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews: Brethren, there were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: but Jesus, for that He continueth forever, hath an everlasting priesthood. Whereby He is able also to save forever them that come to God by Him; always living to make intercession for us. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, and undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as the other priests, to offer sacrifice first for His own sins, and then for the people’s; for this Jesus Christ our Lord did once, in offering Himself.
GRADUAL Psalm 131: 16-17
I will clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy. There will I bring forth a horn to David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. Alleluia, alleluia! Ps. 109:4 The Lord has sworn an oath there is no retracting: Thou art a priest for ever in the line of Melchisedech. Alleluia!
GOSPEL Matthew 24: 42-47
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Watch, because you know not what hour your Lord will come. But this know ye, that, if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready: because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season? Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88: 25
My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted.
Hallow the gifts we offer Lord, and at the intercession of thy blessed confessor bishop Swithun, do thou cleanse us by their means from the defilement of our sins. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration S. Henry Emperor Confessor
We offer You sacrifices of praise, O Lord, in memory of Your Saints; trusting that by them we may be delivered from both present and future evils. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 24: 46-47
Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord cometh he shall find watching: Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
We humbly beg thee, almighty God, to grant that we whom thou renewest with thy sacrament, at the intercession of thy blessed confessor bishop Swithun, may lead lives acceptable to thee and worthy of thy servants. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration S. Henry Emperor Confessor
Refreshed with heavenly food and drink, we humbly pray You, our God, that we also may be helped by his prayers in memory of whom we have partaken. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Of St Henry II Emperor & Confessor
St. Henry II, a German king who led and defended Europe’s Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the first millennium.
St. Henry was born in 972 to Duke Henry of Bavaria and Princess Gisela of Burgundy. During his youth, Henry received both an education and spiritual guidance from a bishop who was himself canonized, St. Wolfgang of Regensberg. Henry was an intelligent and devout student, and for a period of time he was considered for the priesthood.
St. Wolfgang’s lessons in piety and charity left a lasting mark on Henry’s soul. But it was ultimately in the political realm, not the Church, that he would seek to exercise these virtues. He took on his father’s position as Duke of Bavaria in 995, one year after St. Wolfgang’s death. The Church supported his accession to the throne as King of Germany in 1002.
As king, Henry encouraged the German bishops to reform the practices of the Church in accordance with canon law. During the same period he is said to have brought a peaceful end to a revolt in his territory, which ended with the king mercifully pardoning the rebels. Henry also acted decisively, but not harshly, against an Italian nobleman who set himself up as a rival king.
In 1014, the German king journeyed to Rome where Pope Benedict VIII formally crowned him as head of the Holy Roman Empire. The emperor demonstrated his loyalty to the Pope by confirming Benedict VIII’s authority over the city of Rome. Henry made his journey from Rome back to Germany into a pilgrimage of sorts, stopping at various monasteries along the way.
Henry became a great patron of churches and monasteries, donating so much of his wealth to them that his relatives complained that he was behaving irresponsibly. But Henry was far from irresponsible, as his leadership of the Western Empire in both war and peace demonstrated. The emperor was also a great patron of the poor, making enormous contributions for their relief.
The emperor’s extraordinary generosity was made possible in part by his lack of an heir. He was married to a woman who was later canonized in her own right, St. Cunigunde of Luxembourg, but the two had no children. Some accounts say that the couple took vows of virginity and never consummated their marriage, though this explanation of their childlessness is not universally accepted.
For the last several years of his life, Henry had to deal with serious illness, and an additional ailment that crippled his left leg, along with his imperial responsibilities. He found support in prayer during these trials, and seriously considered resigning his imperial leadership in order to become a monk.
After several years of illness, St. Henry II died in July of 1024. The public mourned sincerely for the monarch who had managed to lead his earthly kingdom so responsibly without losing sight of the Kingdom of God. Pope Eugene III canonized him in 1146.