Tag Archive | "Saint Valentine’s Day"

Saint Valentine

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As we approach springtime, which heralds Easter, one date in February appears prominent on the Roman Catholic calendar.  That date is February 14th, known far and wide as Saint Valentine’s Day.  As the patron saint of love, youth, and happy marriages, we dedicate this day to those we love.  We honor them with bouquets of roses, romantic, candlelit dinners, and heart-shaped boxes filled with candy representing the sweetness of our love, all because of the mysterious man known as Saint Valentine (nee, Valentinius).

Although his actual origins are unknown, legend tells us that Valentinius lived during the reign of Claudius II, about the year 269 AD.   However sketchy his history, he did indeed exist.  Archaeologists digging through Roman catacombs excavated Saint Valentine’s remains, as well as the remnants of an ancient church erected in his honor.  The first representation of this martyr appeared in a wonderfully illustrated 15th century book, The Numbers Chronicle, published the year after Columbus set sail for America.

Valentine was a bishop living in ancient Rome.  He supported the efforts of Saint Marius and his family by giving assistance to persecuted Christian martyrs, and by joining Christian couples in Holy Matrimony.  These acts were considered crimes under Roman law, for they promoted and glorified a religion that would ultimately usurp that of the Romans.

Although Claudius looked with favor upon Valentine, there was one transgression he could not overlook: Valentine sought to convert the emperor to Christianity.  For his zeal, Valentine was tortured and beheaded on February 14th.  Two centuries later, in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I proclaimed February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day in honor of his martyrdom.

According to Roman Catholic dogma, elevation to saintly status requires miracles associated with he or she who would be canonized.  Prior to his execution, Valentinius performed miracles during his incarceration.  These included restoring the sight of his jailer’s daughter.  On the eve of his death, he penned a note to the girl and signed it,  “From your Valentine.”

Representations of St. Valentine depict him surrounded by roses and birds.  As we honor Saint Valentine’s Day this year, let us remember that this revered Christian leader gave his life for the greatest love of all: our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

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