IT RAINED on and off, and people on the riverbank were almost as
wet as those being baptised by the Bishop of Knaresborough, the Rt
Revd James Bell, in the Holy River of St Paulinus, otherwise the
River Swale, in Ripon & Leeds diocese.
It was the culmination of a weekend of heritage events in the
four churches where the Revd Yvonne Callaghan is assistant curate:
Easby with Skeeby, Brompton on Swale and Bolton on Swale. They
together joined forces with St Anne's, Catterick Village, just
across the Swale, where the Revd Lindsay Southern is curate. The
two donned wetsuits - as, one suspects, Bishop Bell did under his
He began by blessing the river. He said that he was not sure
whether he was blessing the whole river, or only part of it, but
"God knows." "Everyone was so wet," Mrs Southern said, "he might as
well have blessed the rain clouds."
Nine people, of various ages, were baptised - some by total
immersion, others by standing in the river and having water poured
over their heads. Many more renewed their baptismal vows, some
choosing to be in water up to their knees.
It all happened close to the spot where, the Venerable Bede
says, in the seventh century, St Paulinus, Bishop of York, baptised
"in the River Swale which runs by the village of Cataract, for as
yet oratories, or fonts, could not be made in the early infancy of
the Church in those parts".