VALENTINE'S DAY: BETWIXT LEGENDS AND MARTYRDOM

VALENTINE'S DAY: BETWIXT LEGENDS AND MARTYRDOM

The intel regarding St. Valentine remains somewhat elusive, enshrouded in a mystique steeped in fables transmitted across the ages. Whispers even allude to multiple saints bearing the identical name, with two of these, both meeting their demise in Rome, potentially representing the same enigmatic figure, as per certain interpretations.

 

The Two Martyred Valentines

The narrative of the initial St. Valentine, a Roman cleric, harks back to 270 A.D. amidst the persecution orchestrated by Claudius II, recognized as the Gothic. Summoned to the imperial abode, Valentine declined the veneration of pagan deities, prompting Claudius to surrender him to a Roman patrician. Legend holds that Valentine bestowed sight upon the patrician's sightless daughter, resulting in the entire kin embracing Christianity. Upon the discovery of this conversion, Claudius sentenced Valentine to the ultimate fate, severing his head at the second league of the Via Flaminia, where he found his final resting place.

The subsequent St. Valentine, the bishop of Terni in Umbria, purportedly existed seventy years subsequent to the former. Summonsed to Rome by Cratone, a philosopher, to remedy the deformity afflicting the offspring of a noble, Valentine performed yet another prodigious feat. In this instance as well, the family underwent a Christian transformation, yet Placido, the son of the prefect, could not abide by this conversion and clandestinely orchestrated Valentine's beheading, once again at the second league of the Flaminia. Subsequently, the remains were conveyed to Terni and interred at the present location of the Basilica of San Valentino, erected in the fourth century, wherein the urn of St. Valentine has resided beneath the primary altar since the tardy 1700s.

The analogies between the two chronicles insinuate the possibility that there might have been just a singular St. Valentine, specifically the one hailing from Terni, with disparate yet interwoven narratives erroneously transmitted over the eons.

 

The Propagation of the Devotion

Unquestionably, the devotion to St. Valentine proliferated across French and English monastic establishments during the medieval epoch, courtesy of the Benedictines who safeguarded the Terni basilica. The safeguarding and diffusion of the tale played a pivotal role in cementing St. Valentine's persona as an esteemed martyr.

St. Valentine holds the esteemed title of the Patron Saint of the city of Terni, and it is in this locale that the "San Valentino un anno d’amore" (St. Valentine, a year of love) accolade has been instituted, acknowledging biennially those who have distinguished themselves through acts of Christian benevolence, peace, and the fostering of unity among diverse communities.

 

St. Valentine, The Seraphic Patron of Amorous Souls

The myriad tales enveloping St. Valentine have molded his identity into an emblem of love, inexorably intertwined with the realm of lovers. Amidst these enthralling chronicles, one of the most renowned recounts the saint's involvement in reconciling two feuding young paramours.

Legend has it that St. Valentine approached a discordant pair of young lovers, bearing a rose as a peace offering. With utmost tenderness, he implored them to clasp the flower jointly in their hands. This seemingly simple act, emblematic of tranquility and affection, miraculously harmonized their discord on the spot.

Another narrative harks back to the period when St. Valentine had ascended to the role of Bishop of Terni. It narrates his presiding over the union between Serapia, a youthful Christian maiden, and the Roman centurion Sabino. Summoned to the bedside of the young lady, Valentine baptized the centurion and officiated the sacred nuptial tie, despite vehement parental opposition. This deed established St. Valentine as the guardian of marital unions.

The tales encapsulating St. Valentine unveil his profound association with love and conciliation. His persona stands as a guiding light for lovers and a compass for those yearning for harmony in their relationships.

 

St. Valentine: February 14, The Epoch of Love and Custom

The selection of February 14 to commemorate St. Valentine's Day, also acknowledged as the day of lovers, is tethered to an ancient decree of the Catholic Church. This date marks the saint's demise, giving birth to a tradition that has permeated across the globe.

Pope Gelasius I officially instituted St. Valentine's Day in 496. This occasion supplanted the "Lupercalia" revelry, an age-old pagan festivity venerating the fertility deity Lupercus, initially observed on February 15. The festivities involved unbridled revelries overtly at odds with Christian ethics and the essence of love.

The Catholic Church opted to superimpose the Christian observance onto the pagan revelry, transmuting February 14 into a day consecrated to love and the memory of St. Valentine.

The nexus between St. Valentine and the tradition of exchanging expressions of love and tokens appears to trace its roots back to the High Middle Ages. In Geoffrey Chaucer's literary work, St. Valentine's Day is entwined with the romantic dances of avian courtships. This romantic entanglement has played a pivotal role in metamorphosing St. Valentine into the venerated patron saint of lovers, celebrated with love on a global scale.

 

The Heritage of "Valentines" in Anglo-Saxon Lands

The origins of St. Valentine's Day in England trace their roots to the medieval era, birthing a distinctive tradition that has withstood the test of time.

Around February 14, amorous youth engaged in a tender ritual that played a pivotal role in shaping the contemporary observance of this special day. They presented a cherished offering to their beloved, discreetly placing it at her threshold before swiftly retreating. This symbolic gesture served as a means of conveying love and fondness while veiling the identity of the ardent admirer.

By the 17th century, the tradition underwent a metamorphosis with the advent of the inaugural "Valentines" — diminutive anonymous cards adorned with expressions of love. Despite English society's reluctance towards overt demonstrations of affection, the practice of Valentines gained widespread acceptance. The allure of professing one's love anonymously contributed to the enchantment of this tradition. Even royalty partook in this tender and romantic custom, exemplified by the missives sent by Charles d'Orléans to his "tres doulce Valentinèe" during his period of captivity.

In contemporary England, St. Valentine's Day preserves vestiges of its original medieval charm. While the custom of "Valentines" has evolved to encompass cards, blossoms, and gifts, the romantic essence of leaving an imprint of love endures as the focal point of the celebration.

 

Valentine's Day in the United States: A Comprehensive Commemoration

The United States marks this occasion in a distinct manner, transforming Valentine's Day or V-Day into a jubilant experience transcending conventional romance. In contrast to the "classic" rendition, Valentine's Day transcends the confines of exclusive coupledom. Its reach extends to friends, educators, colleagues, kin, and anyone holding significance in one's life. The festivities commence from school days, metamorphosing into an opportunity to convey appreciation, thankfulness, and affection to all those deemed meaningful.

It becomes a juncture to exalt love in its myriad forms, fostering connections and fortifying bonds that transcend the boundaries of romantic relationships.

 

Valentine's Day Presents Infused with Profound Spiritual Significance

Chocolates, flowers, intimate dinners, and beyond! Yet, if the desire is to astonish those dear to us, why not contemplate a gift imbued with deeper meaning? Love manifests itself in myriad ways, and it's truly beautiful that there exists a day to underscore its significance.

If we find ourselves blessed with love — in the broadest sense of the term, extending beyond the confines of quintessential romantic love — we recognize the privilege and the gratitude it warrants. Amidst the celebration of St. Valentine's Day, we have the opportunity to craft something extraordinary, expressing gratitude for the gift bestowed upon us by those we cherish daily.

We can manifest this love towards our cherished ones through various means, and it's an imperative we undertake each day!

On St. Valentine's Day, let us leave an indelible mark and convey our profound appreciation. Consider, perhaps, a piece of jewelry, whether opulent or otherwise; the crux lies in its heartfelt bestowal. And is there a love more profound than that shared between the Lord and the Madonna? Opt for exquisite rosaries, splendid rings, and miraculous medals — each possessing intrinsic value primarily for their spiritual significance!

Explore the assortment curated specifically for this special occasion by clicking here.

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