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July 2 Saints of the Day – John of Shanghai and San Francisco, and Swithun

On this date in 1698, Thomas Savery patented the first steam engine. Other inventors of the time thought he was full of hot air.

John of Shanghai and San FranciscoJohn (Maximovich) the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco (1896 – 1966), born Mikhail in Ukraine, resembled his distant relative St. John of Tobolsk “in several aspects,” although our sources do not say which aspects those were (NW and NNE, perhaps). He received the name John at his hierodeaconification by Metropolitan Anthony, and after eight short years as an instructor and tutor, he was bishopified and sent to Shanghai. There he founded an orphanage, ignored the Japanese curfew (much to their indifference), and refused to have anything to do with the Soviet-tainted church authorities, which so impressed the ROCOR Synod that he was made archbishop in 1946.

When the Communists took over China, the Russians there were forced to flee, and John went to Washington D.C., to ask permission for his fellow refugees to emigrate to the States. Apparently it worked. He was then assigned to Western Europe, where he went around collecting saints’ lives (antique shops were apparently keen to get rid of them), thus re-introducing many pre-schism saints into the eastern calendar. He was then sent to San Francisco, where he brought peace to a divided community and completion to an unfinished cathedral. His political enemies tried to besmirch his name (is that a great word or what?) (“besmirch,” I mean, not “name”), accusing him of financial improprieties, but he was eventually exonerated. (So glad financial improprieties are no longer a problem in the Church.)

Vladika John (as he is still remembered) passed away while visiting Seattle as bodyguard to the Kursk Icon of the Theotokos. His body was flown to San Francisco, and rests in the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin on Geary Street (all the sources point out the street the Cathedral is on, so I figured I’d better pass it along). He was canonized in 1994, on the day of his repose.

SwithunSwithun (Swīþhūn ) (ca. 800 – 862) was tutor to King Egbert (of Wessex)’s son Æthelwulf (who was also called Adulphus, although by whom, it doesn’t say). Æth (nobody called him that) appointed him Bishop of Winchester, and he became known for his piety and his zeal in building and repairing churches (the general contractors in the area loved him). He also gave rich banquets to which only poor folk and no rich people were invited (no idea whether the general contractors liked this). He asked Æthelwulf to give one tenth of his land to the Church, and by golly he did.

A wonderworker, his most famous wonderwork involved an old egg-woman crossing a bridge. She was accosted by a “reckless fellow” (or a group of workmen), and in the struggle every last one of her eggs was smashed. Fortunately for her (and the eggs), Swithun walked up at that moment. He asked to see the eggs, and she showed him the gooey mess, whereupon he lifted up his hand in blessing and they were made whole, “ever each one.”

But it is chiefly for events that occurred after his death (the nature of which none of our sources discloses) that he is remembered. He asked to be buried outside the cathedral, where his grave would be “subject to the feet of passers-by, and raindrops pouring from on high” (which doesn’t rhyme in Latin). His body was moved indoors in 971, accompanied by many miracles including an iron ring coming free from a stone without leaving a trace, a blind man receiving his sight, and many being healed of “divers sickness and maladies.” But before all this, according to a late legend, he declared his unwillingness to be moved by sending a 40-day downpour. The weather on the day of his translation (July 15) is thus taken to be a harbinger, as recorded in this ancient bit of doggerel:

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.

He is the patron “against drought,” as seems fitting.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

July 2 (Wikipedia)
John of Shanghai and San Francisco (Wikipedia) – Main source
Life Of St. John (Maximovitch) The Wonderworker, Of Shanghai and San Francisco. (Fr. Serfes)
Swithun (Wikipedia) – Main source
The Golden Legend: The Life of Saint Swithun (Catholic Forum)
Saint Swithun (SQPN)


About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

One comment on “July 2 Saints of the Day – John of Shanghai and San Francisco, and Swithun

  1. […] was thinking about Alex’s humor on Tuesday when he did a post about Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, also known as Saint John […]

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