Thursday, May 6, 2021

Saints for Today: Valentine, Bishop & Martyr (3rd century)

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Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Feast Day: February 14

Saint Valentine, officially Saint Valentine of Rome, was a widely recognized 3rd-century Roman saint of the High Middle Ages and associated with a tradition of courtly love. Saint Valentine is commemorated in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Churches, on February 14. The Church recognizes him as a saint, listing him in the February 14 spot of Roman Martyrolgy.

Although not much of Valentine’s life is reliably known, and whether or not the stories involve two different saints by the same name is also not officially decided, it is highly agreed that Valentine was martyred and then buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome.

One common story about Saint Valentine is that in one point of his life, as the former Bishop of Terni, Narnia and Amelia, he was on house arrest with Judge Asterius. While discussing religion and faith with the Judge, Valentine pledged the validity of Jesus. The judge immediately put Valentine and his faith to the test. Saint Valentine was presented with the judge’s blind daughter and told to restore her sight. If he succeeded, the judge vowed to do anything for Valentine. Placing his hands onto her eyes, Valentine restored the child’s vision.

Judge Asterius was humbled and obeyed Valentine’s requests. Asterius broke all the idols around his house, fasted for three days and became baptized, along with his family and entire 44-member household. The now faithful judge then freed all of his Christian inmates.

Saint Valentine was later arrested again for continuing to try to convert people to Christianity. He was sent to Rome under the emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II). According to the popular hagiographical identity, and what is believed to be the first representation of Saint Valentine, the Nuremberg Chronicle, Saint Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during Claudius’ reign. The story tells that Saint Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Both acts were considered serious crimes. A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow, until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius became enraged and sentenced Valentine to death, commanding him to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded. Saint Valentine refused to renounce his Christianity and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269.

Other depictions of Saint Valentine’s arrests tell that he secretly married couples so husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. Whoever he was, Valentine did really exist, because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
“Saint Valentine”. Catholic Online. Web. 13 Feb 2019. https:// www. catholic. org/saints/ saint. php?saint_id=159
“Saint Valentine”. Wikipedia. Web. 13 Feb 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine

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