St Valentine

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time


St Valentine
St Valentine
oil painting by Leonhard Beck, around 1510

Public Domain

I am aware in the lectionary calendar it is the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, but I am a self-confessed romantic and I am not allowing Valentine's Day to pass un-noticed. There are 3 Saints named Valentine or Valentinus whose death’s occurred on 14th Feb. One was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy), both of whom are buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different distances from the city. The third was said to be a saint who suffered on the same day with a number of companions in the Roman province of Africa, of whom nothing else is known. He is among all those ... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God. Of the first two a common nucleus of fact may underlie the two accounts and they may refer to a single person.

Valentine of Rome

St Valentine was a clergyman – either a priest or a bishop – in the Roman Empire who according to the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. He was martyred and his body buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome, on February 14.

Valentine of Terni

According to the official biography of the Diocese of Terni, Bishop Valentine was born and lived in Interamna and while on a temporary stay in Rome, Valentine was arrested for evangelizing and then refused to sacrifice to pagan gods. Being imprisoned for this, Valentine gave his testimony in prison and through his prayers healed the jailer's daughter who was suffering from blindness. On the day of his execution, he left her a note that was signed, "Your Valentine". His body was hastily buried at a nearby cemetery on February 14, 269. and a few nights later his disciples retrieved his body and returned him home.

The Feast of Saint Valentine (Valentine's Day) has been observed since 496 AD. From the High Middle Ages his Saints' Day has been associated with a tradition of courtly love. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various deeds or services for ladies because of their "courtly love"

"Loving nobly" was considered to be an enriching and improving practice. - Stevens, John (1979). Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court. New York: Cambridge University Press.
In essence, courtly love was an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment, "a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent" - Francis X. Newman, ed. (1968). The Meaning of Courtly Love, vii.