As we all know, Valentine’s day is coming up in little less than a week, and while we all know the holiday pretty well, we know very little about the namesake: St. Valentine.This is easily forgivable, though, as there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding any information about this particular saint. So little is known about him, in fact, that he was actually removed from the Church’s calendar, although he is still afforded the February 14th spot in the Roman martyrolgy. Despite the unknowns surrounding the saint, it is generally agreed upon that he was martyred and buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome. So, what do we know about Saint Valentine? Well, we know that he is responsible for the healing of a blind girl. There are two legends in particular concerning the identity of the little girl. One legend states that while he was under house arrest with the Judge Asterius, he began to discuss religion and faith with the good judge, where Valentine pledged the validity of Jesus. The judge, in response, immediately decided to put the good Saint’s faith to the test, so he made a little wager. The judge presented before St. Valentine his blind daughter and told him to restore her sight. If Valentine were able to do so, the judge would grant any request that Valentine asked of him. Valentine, strong in his faith, placed his hands over the poor girls eyes, and her sight was restored. The judge, humbled by this miracle, broke all the pagan idols in his household, fasted for three days, and became baptized with his family and the 44 members of his household. The judge, now faithful to the Christian faith, also released all of his Christian inmates. The other variation of the legend tells that, while Valentine was imprisoned for refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods of Rome, he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. At his execution, Valentine left a note for the girl signed, “Your Valentine. And thus the infamous tradition of leaving notes to “your valentine” was born… eventually. You may be asking yourself, why was St. Valentine imprisoned? Well, during this time, sometime in the 3rd century, under the reign of Emperor Claudius Gothicus, Christianity was illegal, and Saint Valentine, as a priest, and thus holding the authority to perform marriages, would marry Christian couples in secret. He would also aid Christians being persecuted by Claudius. For all intents and purposes, according to the civil law of that time and place, he was a criminal for doing such things. After he was sent to Rome, however, a relationship between the good Saint and the emperor began to develop. That is, however, until Valentine attempted to convince the Emperor of Christianity. The Emperor, enraged by Valentine because of this, ordered him to either renounce his Christian faith, or be beaten with clubs and beheaded. Saint Valentine, solid in his faith, refused to renounce, and, as a result, was beaten and beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14th, 269 AD. The exact year, though, is disputed, but only within a span of ten years. Despite the ambiguity surrounding the Saint, though, it is affirmed he did actually exist, as archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient Church dedicated to him. The February 14th date was marked by Pope Gelasius in the year 469 AD as a celebration of his martyrdom. St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. He is often represented with bees and roses in works of art. The romantic nature of the day that we celebrate is believed to have originated sometime in the Middle Ages, when it was believed that birds would pair people sometime in mid February. According to Alban Butler and Francis Douce, both 18th century English antiquarians, though, Valentine’s Day was most likely created to overpower the pagan holiday, Lupercalia. But whatever the origin, the day is widely recognized as a celebration of love, devotion, and romance. Ooo la la. Given the nature of St. Valentine’s martyrdom, though, we really ought to compete for the love of our life by mortal combat with clubs in the middle of time square. God bless.
Authors Note: The author of this blog does not actually endorse violence in the process of wooing the love of one’s life. Please understand that love should be self sacrificial and non life-endangering. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church, giving up His life for her and her sanctification.” God bless.