Dales river baptisms follow in the footsteps of an ancient saint

River baptismsChristians ranging in age from nine years to seventy five years old have been baptised in the chilly waters of the River Swale in the Yorkshire Dales, following in the footsteps of the first Christians in the area nearly fourteen hundred years ago who were baptised by the 7th century Bishop of York, Paulinus.

The river baptism service on Sunday 1 July, brought together churches in the Richmond area and was led by the Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, the Venerable Beverley Mason (pictured, top, to the right of one of those being baptised, along with the Revd Yvonne Callaghan, pictured left)

Christian baptisms are first recorded in the ‘holy’ River Swale nearly fourteen hundred years ago when the first bishop of York, St Paulinus, baptized thousands of converts in the river around the year 627 AD according to historian, the Venerable Bede. The baptisms went down in folklore and led to the Swale becoming known as the Holy River of St Paulinus.

Nearly fourteen hundred years later, the banks of the river at the Brompton Caravan Park in Brompton on Swale were lined with family and friends to witness the baptisms and rededications of seven men, women and children from local churches.

Wading into the waters with the Archdeacon were local clergy, the Revd Lindsay Southern, Vicar of Catterick with Tunstall, the Revd  Yvonne Callaghan, Vicar of Easby, Skeeby, Brompton on Swale and Bolton on Swale and the Revd Anthony Kirby, Priest in Charge, Barningham with Hutton Magna & Wycliffe, and Gilling with Kirkby Ravensworth.

Baptisms in the River Swale were revived by the two vicars in 2013 and have been taking place every summer since then.

Archdeacon Bev Mason said it was a great privilege to take the service. “People have come forward, children and adults to give their life to Christ, a tremendous public witness.

“It’s a wonderful example of Christians working together, with three churches and priests cooperating,  and the Body of Christ witnessing to discipleship and evangelising in the very same waters that St Paulinus was baptising thousands of people fourteen hundred years ago.”

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