Skip to comments.The Life of St. Valentine, The Golden Legend
Posted on 02/14/2005 10:18:34 AM PST by Salvation
ere beginneth the Life of Saint Valentine, and first the interpretation of his name.
Valentine is as much to say as containing valour that is perseverant in great holiness. Valentine is said also as a valiant knight, for he was a right noble knight of God, and the knight is said valiant that fleeth not, and smiteth and defendeth valiantly and overcometh much puissantly. And so Saint Valentine withdrew him not from his martyrdom in fleeing, he smote in destroying the idols, he defended the faith, he overcame in suffering.
Of Saint Valentine the martyr.
Saint Valentine, friend of our Lord and priest of great authority, was at Rome. It happed that Claudius the emperor made him to come tofore him and said to him in demanding: What thing is that which I have heard of thee, Valentine? Why wilt thou not abide in our amity, and worship the idols and renounce the vain opinion of thy creance? Saint Valentine answered him: If thou hadst very knowledge of the grace of Jesu Christ thou shouldest not say this that thou sayest, but shouldest reny the idols and worship very God. Then said to Saint Valentine a prince which was of the council of the emperor: What wilt thou say of our gods and of their holy life? And Saint Valentine answered: I say none other thing of them but that they were men mortal and mechant and full of all ordure and evil. Then said Claudius the emperor: If Jesu Christ be God verily, wherefore sayst thou not the truth? And Saint Valentine said: Certainly Jesu Christ is only very God, and if thou believe in him, verily thy soul shall be saved, thy realm shall multiply, and he shall give to thee alway victory of thine enemies. Then Claudius turned him unto all them that were there, and said to them: Lords, Romans, hear ye how wisely and reasonably this man speaketh? Anon the provost of the city said: The emperor is deceived and betrayed, how may we leave that which we have holden and been accustomed to hold sith our infancy? With these words the emperor turned and changed his courage, and Saint Valentine was delivered in the keeping of the provost.
When Saint Valentine was brought in an house in prison, then he prayed to God, saying: Lord Jesu Christ very God, which art very light, enlumine this house in such wise that they that dwell therein may know thee to be very God. And the provost said: I marvel me that thou sayest that thy God is very light, and nevertheless, if he may make my daughter to hear and see, which long time hath been blind, I shall do all that thou commandest me, and shall believe in thy God. Saint Valentine anon put him in prayers, and by his prayers the daughter of the provost received again her sight, and anon all they of the the house were converted. After, the emperor did do smite off the head of Saint Valentine, the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty. Then let us pray to Saint Valentine that he get us pardon of our sins. Amen.
A Brief History of Valentine's Day
In the city of Rome there once lived an emperor named Claudius. He is known in history as Claudius the Cruel.
Near his palace was a beautiful temple where served the priest Valentine. The Romans loved him dearly and assembled into the temple to hear his words. Before the fire that always burned on the altar they knelt to ask his blessing. Rich and poor, wise and ignorant, old and young, noble and common people they all flocked to Valentine.
In the Roman empire wars broke out. Claudius summoned the citizens forth to battle and year after year the fighting continued. Many of the Romans were unwilling to go. The married men did not want to leave their families. The younger men did not wish to leave their sweethearts. The emperor was angry when soldiers were too few. He ordered that no marriages should be celebrated and that all engagements must be broken off immediately.
Many a young Roman went off to the wars in sorrow, leaving his love. Many a Roman maiden died of grief as a result of this decree.
Now the good priest Valentine heard of the emperor's command and was very sad. When a young couple came to the temple, he secretly united them in marriage in front of the sacred altar. Another pair sought his aid and in secret he wedded them. Others came and quietly were married. Valentine was the friend of lovers in every district of Rome.
But, such secrets could not be kept for long. At last word of Valentine's acts reached the palace and Claudius the Cruel was angry, exceedingly angry. He summoned his soldiers. "Go! Take that priest in the temple! Cast him into a dungeon! No man in Rome, priest or not, shall disobey my commands!"
Valentine was dragged from the temple, dragged away from the altar where a young maiden and a Roman youth stood, ready to wed. Off to prison the soldiers took him.
All of Valentine's friends as well as their friends, interceded with Claudius in vane. Well was he named Claudius the Cruel. In a dungeon Valentine languished and died. His devoted friends buried him in the church of St. Praxedes. When you go to Rome you can see the very place. It was the year 270, on the fourteenth of February.
Another story says that Valentine was one of the early Christians in those far-away days when that meant danger and death. For helping some Christian martyrs he was seized, dragged before the prefect of Rome and cast into jail. There he cured the keeper's daughter of blindness. When the cruel emperor learned of this miracle he gave orders that Valentine should be beheaded. The morning of the execution, he is said to have sent the keeper's daughter a farewell message signed, "From your Valentine."
Long years before 270, when Rome was first founded it was surrounded by a wilderness. Great packs of wolves roamed over the countryside. Among their many gods the Romans had one named Lupercus who watched over the shepherds and their flocks. In his honor they held a great feast in February of each year and called it the Lupercalia. The Lupercalia festival was an echo of the days when Rome consisted of a group of shepherd folk that lived on a hill now know as Palantine. On the calendar used back in those days, February came later than it does today, so Lupercalia was a spring festival.
Some believe the festival honored Faunus, who like the Greek Pan, was a god of herds and crops, But the origin of Lupercalia is so ancient that even scholars of the last century before Christ were never sure.
There is no question about its importance. Records show, for instance, that Mark Antony, an important Roman, was master of the Luperci College of Priests. He chose the Lupercalia festival of the year 44 B.C. as the proper time for offering the crown to Julius Caesar.
Each year, on February 15, the Luperci priests gathered on the Palantine at the cave of Lupercal. Here, according to legend, Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, had been nursed by a mother wolf. In Latin, the word lupus is the word for wolf.
Some of the rituals involved youths of noble birth to run through the streets with goatskin thongs. Young women would crowd the street in the hope of lashing the sacred thongs as it was believed to make them better able to bear children. The goatskin thongs were known as the februa and the lashing the februatio, both coming from a Latin word meaning to purify. The name of the month February come from this meaning.
Long after Rome became a walled city and the seat of a powerful empire, the Lupercalia lived on. When Roman armies invaded what is now France and Britain in the first century before Christ, they took the Lupercalia customs there. One of these is believed to be a lottery where the names of Roman maidens were placed in a box and drawn out by the young men. The girl whose name he drew each man accepted as his love - for a year or longer.
After Christianity was firmly established the priests wanted the people to forget the old heathen gods. But they did not wish to do away with all their feasts and sports. So they kept the Lupercalia and called it Valentine's day.
During the medieval days of chivalry, the names of English maidens and bachelors were put into the box and drawn out in pairs. Each couple exchanged gifts. The girl became the man's valentine for that year. On his sleeve he wore her name and it was his bounded duty to attend and protect her.
This old, old custom of drawing names on the fourteenth of February was considered a good omen for love. It often foretold a wedding. For since the beginning of things this has been lovers' day, a time for loving, for giving and receiving love tokens.
History tells us the first modern valentines date from the early years of the fifteenth century. The young French duke of Orleans, captured at the battle of Agincourt, was kept a prisoner in the Tower of London for many years. To his wife he wrote poem after poem, real valentines. About sixty of them remain. These can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum.
Flowers as valentines appear nearly two hundred years later. A daughter of Henry IV of France gave a party in honor of St. Valentine. Each lady received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the man chosen as her valentine.
Thus from Italy and France and England has come the pretty custom of sending our friends loving messages on this day. With flowers, with heart-shaped candies, with lacy valentines whose frills and furbelows hide the initials of the sender we honor the good priest who disobeyed Claudius the Cruel.
American Holidays and Special Days, George and Virginia Schaun, 1986
The Book of Festivals and Holidays the World Over, Marguerite Ickis, 1970
Stories of The World's Holidays, Grace Humphrey, 1924, Reprinted 1990
Hearts, Cupids and Red Roses, The Story of the Valentines Symbols, Edna Barth, 1974
The Valentine & Its Origins, Frank Staff, 1969
|February 14, 2005
Memorial of Sts. Cyril, monk and St. Methodius, bishop
Old Calendar: St. Valentine, priest and martyr
This was also the feast of St. Valentine whose feast is no longer on the Universal Calendar. St. Valentine, a priest of Rome, was martyred, it would appear, in about 270. On the Flaminian Way, at the site of his martyrdom, Julius I built a basilica which was visited frequently.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius
Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs, were brothers who hailed from Thessalonia. After receiving an excellent education, they were sent by the Eastern Emperor Michael III (842-856) into the kingdom of Grand-Moravia; through great effort and in spite of tremendous difficulties they converted the Slavonic nations. They translated the Bible into Slavonic and devised a kind of writing, called glagolitic, which even to the present day is used in the liturgical services of some Eastern rites.
In 867 the two brothers came to Rome, were met by Pope Hadrian II (867-872) and the whole papal court. They gave a report of their labors but encountered opposition on the part of jealous clergy who took offense, it was said, because of their liturgical innovations. Cyril and Methodius explained their methods and from the Pope himself received episcopal consecration (868). Soon after, Cyril died at Rome, only forty-two years old, and was buried in St. Peter's; later his body was transferred to San Clemente, where his remains still rest. His funeral resembled a triumphal procession.
Methodius returned to Moravia and labored as a missionary among the Hungarians, Bulgarians, Dalmatians, and the inhabitants of Carinthia. Falling again under suspicion, he returned to Rome and defended the use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy. The Pope bestowed upon him the dignity of archbishop. After his return to Moravia, he converted the duke of Bohemia and his wife, spread the light of faith in Bohemia and Poland, is said to have gone to Moscow (after the erection of the See of Lemberg), and to have established the diocese of Kiev. After his return he died in Bohemia and was buried in the Church of St. Mary at Velehrad, the services being conducted in Greek, Slavonic, and Latin.
Patron: Bohemia; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Czechoslovakia; ecumenism; Europe; Moravia; unity of the Eastern and Western Churches; Yugoslavia.
Symbols for St. Cyril: With Saint Methodius; Oriental monk holding a church with the help of Methodius; surrounded by Bulgarian converts; wearing a long philosopher's coat.
Symbols for St. Methodius: With Saint Cyril; Oriental bishop holding up a church with Saint Cyril; Oriental bishop holding a picture of the Last Judgement.
Things to Do:
Legend states that Valentine, along with St. Marius, aided the Christian martyrs during the Claudian persecution. In addition to his other edicts against helping Christians, Claudius had also issued a decree forbidding marriage. In order to increase troops for his army, he forbade young men to marry, believing that single men made better soldiers than married men.
Valentine defied this decree and urged young lovers to come to him in secret so that he could join them in the sacrament of matrimony. Eventually he was discovered by the Emperor, who promptly had Valentine arrested and brought before him. Because he was so impressed with the young priest, Claudius attempted to convert him to Roman paganism rather than execute him immediately. However, Valentine held steadfast and in turn attempted to covert Claudius to Christianity, at which point the Emperor condemned him to death.
While in prison, Valentine was tended by the jailer, Asterius, and his blind daughter. Asterius' daughter was very kind to Valentine and brought him food and messages. They developed a friendship and toward the end of his imprisonment Valentine was able to convert both father and daughter to Christianity. Legend has it that he also miraculously restored the sight of the jailer's daughter.
The night before his execution, the priest wrote a farewell message to the girl and signed it affectionately "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lives on even to today. He was executed on February 14th, 273 AD in Rome. The Martyrology says, "At Rome, on the Flaminian Way, the heavenly birthday of the blessed martyr Valentine, a priest. After performing many miraculous cures and giving much wise counsel he was beaten and beheaded under Claudius Caesar."
The church in which he is buried existed already in the fourth century and was the first sanctuary Roman pilgrims visited upon entering the Eternal City.
The valentine has become the universal symbol of friendship and affection shared each anniversary of the priest's execution -- St. Valentine's Day. Valentine has also become the patron of engaged couples.
Patron: Affianced couples; against fainting; bee keepers; betrothed couples; engaged couples; epilepsy; fainting; greeting card manufacturers; greetings; happy marriages; love; lovers; plague; travellers; young people.
Symbols: Birds; roses; bishop with a crippled or epileptic child at his feet; bishop with a rooster nearby; bishop refusing to adore an idol; bishop being beheaded; priest bearing a sword; priest holding a sun; priest giving sight to a blind girl.
Things to Do:
**The night before his execution, the priest wrote a farewell message to the girl and signed it affectionately "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lives on even to today.**
Amazing that these words live on today! St. Valentine, we pray for your intercesion to bring strength and fidelity to marriages today. Amen.
Earlier this morning I was cleaning and my son was watching Blue's Clues on Nickelodeon. Throughout the whole 30 minute show, they never once used the term "Valentine's Day." Instead they called it "Love Day,"Love Note" etc. Just found it interesting - heaven forbid they would say the name of a Saint!
"Love Day" -- There goes the emphasis on the sexuality part and not on the holiness.
May the Lord have mercy on us all.
St. Valentine, pray for us.
Spiritual Bouquet: If your right eye is an occasion of sin to you, pluck it out and cast it from you. St. Matthew 5:29
Priest and Martyr
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who assisted the martyrs during the persecution under Claudius II. His great virtue and influence became known, and he was apprehended and brought before the emperors tribunal. Why, Valentine, do you want to be the friend of our enemies and reject our friendship? The Christian priest replied, My Lord, if you knew the gift of God, you would be happy, and your empire with you; you would reject the cult of your idols and would adore the true God and His Son Jesus Christ. One of the judges interrupted, asking the martyr what he thought of Jupiter and Mercury. That they were miserable, and spent all their lives in debauchery and crime! The judge, furious, cried, He has blasphemed against the gods and against the empire! The emperor nonetheless continued his questioning with curiosity, pleased to have this opportunity to know what Christians thought. Valentine had the courage to exhort him to do penance for the blood of Christians which he had shed. Believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and you will be saved, and already in this life you will insure your empires glory and the triumph of your arms. Claudius began to be convinced, and said to those in attendance, Hear the beautiful doctrine this man is teaching us! But the prefect of Rome, dissatisfied, cried out, See how this Christian is seducing our prince! Claudius, weakening, abandoned the holy priest to another judge.
This man, named Asterius, had a little girl who had been blind for two years. Hearing of Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, he asked Valentine if he could convey that light to his child. Saint Valentine placed his hand on her eyes and prayed: Lord Jesus Christ, true Light, illuminate this blind child! The child saw, and the Judge with all his family confessed Christ and received Baptism. The emperor, hearing of this, would have turned his gaze away from these conversions, but fear caused him to betray his sense of justice. With several other Christians Saint Valentine was tortured and martyred in the year 268.
This illustrious martyr has always been held in great honor in Rome, where there still exists a catacomb named for him.
Reflection. In the cause of justice and truth, human prudence should not be consulted; in that case, it is mere human respect. Saint Paul says: The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (I Cor. 3:19)
Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butlers Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
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And happy St. Valentine's Day to you too. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed.
You are so welcome. I thought the difference between the Religious sites and the secular site on St. Valentine were striking, don't you?
St. Valentine's Day bump.
Is he still a Saint?
BTTT on the Optional Memorial of St. Valentine, 02-14-06!
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