February 14: Saint Valentine and his day

Saint Valentine is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

I was looked at the Catholic Online about Saint Valentine. For a Protestant kid, I’ve long been rather fascinated by the whole Roman Catholic canonization process.

The stories of Saint Valentine may involve two different saints by the same name. Someone of that name was arrested multiple times for trying to convert people to Christianity. marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome.

“A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius became raged and sentenced Valentine to death, commanding him to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded.

“St. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and Christianity and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269.” Or 270, or 273 or 280…

“Because so little is reliably known of him, in 1969 the Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar, leaving his liturgical celebration to local calendars. The Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize him as a saint, listing him as such in the February 14 entry in the Roman Martyrology, and authorizing liturgical veneration of him on February 14 in any place where that day is not devoted to some other obligatory celebration…”

“Saint 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 represented in pictures with birds and roses.” Fainting IS a part of romance, I reckon, and sometimes love is a plague.

This theory has been heavily disputed: “While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial… others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to ‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.”

The Census Bureau, in its Facts for Features, notes that “in A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius I declared Feb. 14 as Valentine’s Day… Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s.” So his holiday wasn’t just “invented by Hallmark, as I hear EVERY year.

Among people 15 and older who have been married, 19.1% of men and women “have been married twice as of 2015. About 5.4 have married three or more times. By comparison, 75.5 percent of people who have ever been married have made only one trip down the aisle.” 29.7 and 27.8 years are the “median age at first marriage in 2015 for men and women, respectively.”

I DO understand the sentiment that we should cancel St. Valentine’s Day, since there sometimes appears to be “precious little love in the world.” Perhaps that all the MORE reason to honor it. Those people who scrubbed the swastikas off the New York City subway train, that’s love. When folks rally at the local Jewish Community Center, twice, in 2017, because of bomb threats, that’s love. It would be easy to focus on the initial bad actions, but it’s our response to that action that is the real answer.

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