Aww, Sweet Happy Valentine’s Day.
The day when lovers give each other luscious, hopefully fair-trade, scrumptious delicious chocolate,
overpriced flowers that will soon die after a week
and funny sentimental cards that will find refuge in a stack of papers somewhere.
Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine who was a priest and physician, who along with St. Marius and his family gave comfort to the dying martyrs under the brutal persecution of Emperor Claudius II, the not so loving Goth.
But there is also another St. Valentine who was a Bishop of a place called Interamna (now Terni, located about 60 miles from Rome). He also suffered the wraith of Claudius II the Goth and was arrested, scourged and decapitated.
But wait. There is still another St. Valentine. This one also suffered martyrdom but this time in Africa and with several companions.
Not much is known about these 3 men except that they are three separate saints who share one single holiday remembrance.
It is also the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in the Armenian Apostolic Church.
While the agape of neighbor and our Lord is the highest form of love, the eros form of love seems to have gotten the central focus of February 14. The first recorded association of the martyred St. Valentine’s Day with the romantic love associated with the sacrament of holy matrimony is believed to be in the written work Parliament of Fowls (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer author of famed classic Canterbury Tales. In the story is a dream vision portraying a parliament for birds to choose their mates. Thus Mr. Chaucer was honoring the first anniversary of the engagement of fifteen-year-old King Richard II of England to fifteen-year-old Anne of Bohemia.
Aww Young Young Love.
Well of course people didn’t live that long back then, so even thou it would be taboo now in our culture, it was appropriate at the time.
“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day
When every bird comes there to choose his match
(Of every kind that men may think of!),
And that so huge a noise they began to make
That earth and air and tree and every lake
Was so full, that not easily was there space
For me to stand—so full was all the place.”
The Catholic Bard acknowledges that The original Bard mentioned Valentine’s Day from the lips of Ophelia in classic work Hamlet (1600–1601).
“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.” — William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
Valentine’s Day was turning into a sweet ancient living hallmark card centuries before anyone thought of the idea of starting up a business with that name. But as you can see nasty things such as death, destruction and dismemberment are also associated with this day.
In fact, while you were complaining about not getting a Valentine’s Day gift from that special someone these things occurred on Valentine’s Day.
1349 – The Strasbourg massacre occurred when several hundred Jews were publicly burnt to death, and the rest of them expelled from the city as part of the Black Death persecutions.
1778 – The United States flag is formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel for the first time, when French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte renders a nine gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded by American Revolutionary War navel hero John Paul Jones.
1852 – Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children, becomes the first hospital in England to provide in-patient beds specifically for children, is founded in London. It is greatly associated with children and children’s book authors. The hospital is the largest Centre for child heart surgery in the UK and one of the largest centers for heart transplantation in the world. In 1962 they developed the first heart and lung bypass machine for children. With children’s book author Roald Dahl, they developed an improved shunt valve for children with hydrocephalus, and non-invasive (percutaneous) heart valve replacements. They did the first UK clinical trials of the rubella vaccine, and the first bone marrow transplant and gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency.
In 1929, J. M. Barrie donated the copyright to Peter Pan to the hospital.
1913 – Jimmy Hoffa, (born February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975, declared dead July 30, 1982) an American trade union leader was born. The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa was the topic of an episode of Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World.
1970 – Simon Pegg, English actor, director, producer, and big time geek was born.
1975- Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown was the 13th prime-time animated television Peanuts special and it originally aired on CBS January 28, 1975.
1975 – P. G. Wodehouse (October 15, 1881 –February 14, 1975) English novelist and playwright died.
2008 – Northern Illinois University shooting: A gunman opens fire in a lecture hall of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb County, Illinois, resulting in six fatalities (including the gunman) and 21 injuries.
2018 – A shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is one of the deadliest school massacres with 17 fatalities and 15 injuries.
And those are the good and bad events that happen on Valentine’s Day.
While it seems that the exchange of “valentines” is more the result of secular custom rather than the memory of St. Valentine, and that the celebration has been further paganized with cupids and the like, there is a Christian message that should be remembered. The love of our Lord, depicted beautifully in the image of His most Sacred Heart, is a sacrificial, self-less, and unconditional love. Such is the love that each Christian is called to express in his own life, for God and neighbor. Clearly, St. Valentineno matter which oneshowed such a love, bearing witness to the faith in his dedication as a priest and in the offering of his own life in martyrdom. On this Valentine’s day, looking to the example of this great saint, each person should offer again his love to the Lord, for only by doing so can he properly love those who are entrusted to his care and any other neighbor. Each person should again pledge his love to those loved ones, praying for their intentions, promising fidelity to them, and thanking them for their love in return. Never forget Jesus said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:12-13). St. Valentine fulfilled this command, and may we do the same. History of St. Valentine (catholiceducation.org)