Feb 14, 2008

The True Story of Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or two or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969.[2] Traditional Roman Catholics continue to venerate St. Valentine on his feast day, February 14.
The name "Valentine" does not occur in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, which was compiled by the Chronographer of 354. The feast of St. Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." As Gelasius implied, nothing was known, even then, about the lives of any of these martyrs. The Saint Valentine that appears in various martyrologies in connection with 14 February is described either as:
The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity.
The official Roman Martyrology for February 14 mentions only one Saint Valentine.
Earliest church dedications
Hagiographical sources speak of a Roman priest and a bishop of Terni each buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different distances from the city, with each venerated on February 14. In the Middle Ages, two Roman churches were dedicated to Saint Valentine. One was the tenth-century church Sancti Valentini de Balneo Miccine or de Piscina, which was rededicated by Pope Urban III in 1186. The other, on the Via Flaminia, was the ancient basilica S. Valentini extra Portam founded by Pope Julius I (337-352), though not under this dedication.[11] The basilica apellatur Valentini, "is called Valentine's"; but early basilicas were as often called by the name of their former owner as by the saint to whom they were dedicated: see titulus.
This, the earlier and by far more important of the churches, is dedicated to the less prominent of the two saints, Valentine, presbyter of Rome;[12] this was the Basilica S. Valentini extra Portam, the "Basilica of Saint Valentine beyond the Gate" which was situated beyond the Porta Flaminia (the Porta del Popolo, which was the Porta S. Valentini when William of Malmesbury visited Rome). It stood on the right hand side at the second milestone on the Via Flaminia.[13] It had its origins in a funerary chapel on the site of catacombs, which the Liber Pontificalis attributes to a foundation by Pope Julius I (337-352). However, the dedications of two basilicas dedicated by Julius are not specified in the Liber Pontificalis. It was restored or largely rebuilt by Pope Theodore (642-649) and Pope Leo III (795-816), enriched with an altar cloth by Pope Benedict II (683-685) and by gifts of Pope Hadrian I (772-795), Pope Leo III and Pope Gregory IV (827-844), so that it had become ecclesia mirifice ornata, "a church marvellously adorned". The monastery of San Silvestro in Capite was annexed to it, and in the surviving epitome of a lost catalogue of the churches of Rome, compiled by Giraldus Cambrensis about 1200, it was hospitale S. Valentini extra urbem, the "hospital of Saint Valentine outside the city". But in the thirteenth century the martyr's relics were transferred to Santa Prassede, and the ancient basilica decayed: in Signorili's catalogue, made in about 1425, it was Ecclesia sancti Valentini extra portam sine muris non habet sacerdotem, "the church of Saint Valentine beyond the gate without [enclosing] walls, has no priest".[14]
In the catacombs connected with the basilica of Valentine, outside the Porta del Popolo, nineteenth-century excavations unearthed two hundred Christian inscriptions.[15] Lanciani reported, from the chronicle of the monastery of S. Michael ad Mosam, an account of a pilgrim of the eleventh century who obtained relics of saints "'from the keeper of a certain cemetery, in which lamps are always burning'. He refers to the basilica of S. Valentine and the small hypogaeum attached to it (discovered in 1887)."[16]
The earliest written Acta for Saint Valentine were written in the sixth or seventh century, when the hagiographical was well established, with pious accounts of miracles and torture shared among many texts and applied to many martyr-saints. The longer of the two is that written of the martyr Valentine of Terni and his cure, through faith alone, of a crippled child. Bede, in the eighth century, knew of both hagiographies and included transcripts of both under 14 February in his martyrology.[17]
Relics and liturgical celebration
In 1836, relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, then near (rather than inside) Rome, were identified with St Valentine; placed in a casket, they were transported to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, to which they were donated by Pope Gregory XVI. Many tourists visit the saintly remains on St. Valentine's Day, when the casket is carried in solemn procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love. Alleged relics of St. Valentine also lie at the reliquary of Roquemaure in France, in the Stephansdom in Vienna and also in Blessed John Duns Scotus' church in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland. There is also gold reliquary bearing the words 'Corpus St. Valentin, M' (Body of St. Valentine, Martyr) at The Birmingham Oratory, UK in one of the side altars in the main church.
Of greatest interest at this altar is the rich coffin which lies beneath it, containing the body of St. Valentine, a martyr whose relics from the Roman catacombs were given to John Henry Cardinal Newman by Blessed Pius IX in 1847.[21]
The Saint Valentine who is celebrated on February 14 remains in the Catholic Church's official list of saints (the Roman Martyrology), but, in view of the scarcity of information about him, his commemoration was removed from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration, when this was revised in 1969, but it is included in local calendars of places such as Balzan and Malta, where relics of the saint are claimed to be found. It is kept as a commemoration by Traditionalist Roman Catholics who, in accordance with the authorization given by Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007, use the General Roman Calendar of 1962 and the liturgy of Pope John XXIII's 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, and, as a Simple Feast, by Traditionalist Roman Catholics who use the General Roman Calendar as in 1954.

Now that you here and you are probably wondering what on earth you can give her/him/it away for Valentine's day, why don't you check this wonderful list of the Top 10 Places for Valentine's Day Gifts Online. Or maybe you prefer to download some Free Valentine's Screensavers. If you simply want to use a small detail think of these beautiful free Valentine icons above from Icon Drawer


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