Saint Valentine, Confessor, Martyr

Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine, Confessor, Martyr

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February 14

Today is the feast day of Saint Valentine.  Ora pro nobis. 

Because of his Nuptial Masses, he became the patron of lovers, the affianced, and married couples, and fortuitous to the priest's association with romance is the belief that halfway through the month of February, birds choose their mates, hence St. Valentine's association with birds, especially lovebirds and doves. Chaucer mentions this belief in his “Parliament of Foules”:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

Also fortuitous is the fact that red is both the color of Martrys and the color associated with love. Red roses are also a symbol of both martyrom and love, and had also always been associated with the Roman godess of love, Venus. (1)

To send a very Catholic valentine to someone you love, how about using a paraphrase of today's Collect as the basis for the text?

Grant, I beseech Thee, O almighty God, that (Name of loved one), who celebrates the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine, Thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all the evils that threaten (him/her). Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

…with all the personal, mushy stuff at the bottom! For a romantic card for a spouse, some of the poetry found in Solomon's Canticle of Canticles — a Book which uses marital love as a metaphor for God's love for His Church — cannot be surpassed for inspiration.

As to foods, oysters, chocolates, champagne, and heart-shaped foods are all considered to be romantic.

Note to men: Don't forget St. Valentine's Day. Even the least romantic woman appreciates being remembered on this lovely holy day. One needn't (shouldn't!) spend lavish sums and buy into the marketing nonsense that has become associated with all big Christian Feasts, but a single red rose is just as lovely as an $80 dollar dozen, and chocolates in a small box are as delicious as those in a large box; it is the thought that counts. And it costs nothing to tell her you love her…

And a note to all: be sure to wish people “Happy Saint Valentine's Day” rather than just “Happy Valentine's Day.” This will help bring the deeper meaning of the day into focus! (1)

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger

The holy Priest Valentine lived at the time of the Emperor Claudius. He was held in high estimation, both by the Christians and heathens, on account of his natural amiability, wisdom and virtue. Claudius himself desired to see him, and on his being brought into his presence, said to him: “Why do you refuse to be my friend, when I wish to become yours? Nothing in you displeases me, but that you confess a faith which is against our gods.” Valentine replied: “O Emperor! if you knew the God I worship, you would consider yourself blessed to serve Him. He it is who has given you your life and your crown, and who alone can make you eternally happy.” One of those present interrupted him, saying: “What think you, then, of Jupiter,–of Mercury?” “I think that they have been wicked men, as their lives show,” answered the Priest;” and, therefore, they are unworthy to be called gods.” “That is sacrilege!” cried many: “Valentine deserves to die!” Valentine begged the Emperor graciously to lend him his ear, only for a short space of time, that he might defend his words. 

Having received permission to speak, he placed the falsity, of the heathen gods and the truth of the God of the Christians so clearly before their eyes, that the Emperor, prepossessed in his favor, said to those surrounding him: “I must confess this man speaketh with much reason, and nothing can be said to confute his teaching.” Calphurnius, the Governor, who was also present, on hearing the Emperor speak thus, was filled with fear that he would embrace the Christian faith, and cried: “Valentine is a sorcerer, a blasphemer of the gods of the Empire! He must die, or an insurrection will break out among the people!” This speech alarmed the Emperor to such a degree that he gave up the holy Priest entirely into the hands of the Governor. 

Calphurnius immediately cast him into a dungeon, and gave orders to Judge Asterius to accuse him as an enemy of the gods, according to law. Asterius wished first to make an attempt to win over the Priest, who was so universally loved, from the Christian faith, but to the good fortune of the judge, the contrary took place. Valentine restored the sight of the daughter of Asterius, who had been blind for many years, and, in consequence, the judge and his whole family forsook their idolatry and were baptized. When this was reported to the Emperor, he admired the power of the God whom Valentine adored, and endeavored to set the Saint free, but again frightened by Calphurnius with an insurrection, he at length gave orders to behead him. Saint Valentine received his death sentence with great joy, and ended his life by a glorious martyrdom. (3)

Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop

Today we keep our annual celebration of the triumph of the blessed Martyr Valentine, and the Church, while rejoicing in his glory, places him before us, that we may follow in his footsteps. If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him. There are two things to be considered in this glorious combat: namely, the hard-hearted cruelty of the torturer, and the unconquered patience of the Martyr–the cruelty of the torturer, that we may detest it; the patience of the Martyr, that we may imitate it. Hear what the Psalmist says in reproof of wickedness: Be not emulous of evildoers, for they shall shortly wither away as grass. But the Apostle teaches patience with the wicked in the words: Patience is necessary for you, that you may receive the promise. (3)
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury's time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known. (5)
Image: Saint Valentine (Italian: San Valentino, Latin: Valentinus), officially Saint Valentine of Rome (6)

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff

  1. https://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterepiphany5.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints2-10.htm
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Valentine%20popup.html
  4. http://www.magnificat.ca/cal/en/saints/saint_valentine.html
  5. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/02-14.html
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Valentine_of_Rome.jpg

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