|Bishop and Christian Martyr|
14 February 269|
Eastern Orthodox Church,
February 14 (Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches)July 6 and July 30 (Eastern Orthodox)
|Attributes||Birds; roses; bishop with a crippled or a child with epilepsy at his feet; bishop with a rooster nearby; bishop refusing to adore an idol; bishop being beheaded; priest bearing a sword; priest holding a sun; priest giving sight to a blind girl|
|Patronage||Affianced couples, against fainting, beekeepers, happy marriages, love, plague, epilepsy|
Saint Valentine (Italian: San Valentino, Latin: Valentinus), officially Saint Valentine of Rome, was a widely recognized 3rd-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and since the High Middle Ages is associated with a tradition of courtly love.
All that is reliably known of the saint commemorated on February 14 is his name and that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome on that day. It is uncertain whether Saint Valentine was one individual or a pseudonym for several. Several different martyrologies have been added to later hagiographies that are unreliable.
Because so little is reliably known of him, in 1969 the Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar, leaving his liturgical celebration to local calendars. The Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize him as a saint, listing him as such in the February 14 entry in the Roman Martyrology, and authorizing liturgical veneration of him on February 14 in any place where that day is not devoted to some other obligatory celebration in accordance with the rule that on such a day the Mass may be that of any saint listed in the Martyrology for that day. Use of the pre-1970 liturgical calendar is also authorized under the conditions indicated in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007. Saint Valentine's Church in Rome, built in 1960 for the needs of the Olympic Village, continues as a modern, well-visited parish church.
Saint Valentine is commemorated in the Anglican Communion, as well as in Lutheranism, on February 14. The Lutheran Service Book, with its penchant for the old Roman calendar, commemorates Valentine on this date. By some of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Valentine the Presbyter of Rome is celebrated on July 6 and Hieromartyr Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) is celebrated on July 30. Notwithstanding, because of the relative obscurity of these two saints in the East and since there is no commemoration of St. Valentine in the Greek Orthodox Church, members of the Greek Orthodox Church named Valentinos (male) or Valentina (female) may observe their name day on the Western ecclesiastical calendar date of February 14.
The name Valentinus does not occur in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, the Chronography of 354, although the patron of the Chronography's compilation was a wealthy Roman Christian named Valentinus. However, it is found in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which was compiled between 460 and 544 from earlier local sources. The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." As Gelasius implies, nothing was then known about his life.
The Catholic Encyclopedia and other hagiographical sources speak of three Saint Valentines that appear in connection with February 14. One was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy) both 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.
Though the extant accounts of the martyrdoms of the first two listed saints are of a late date and contain legendary elements, a common nucleus of fact may underlie the two accounts and they may refer to a single person. 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 he was imprisoned, tortured, and martyred there on February 14, 269. His body was hastily buried at a nearby cemetery and a few nights later his disciples retrieved his body and returned him home.
Other saints with the same name
The name "Valentine" derived from valens (worthy, strong, powerful), was popular in Late Antiquity. About eleven other saints having the name Valentine are commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church. Some Eastern Churches of the Western rite may provide still other different lists of Saint Valentines. The Roman martyrology lists only seven who died on days other than February 14: a priest from Viterbo (November 3); a bishop from Raetia who died in about 470 (January 7); a 5th-century priest and hermit (July 4); a Spanish hermit who died in about 715 (October 25); Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24); and Valentine Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936 (September 18). It also lists a virgin, Saint Valentina, who was martyred in 308 (July 25) in Caesarea, Palestine.
Hagiography and testimony
The inconsistency in the identification of the saint is replicated in the various vitae that are ascribed to him.
A common hagiography describes Saint Valentine as a priest of Rome or as the former Bishop of Terni, Narnia and Amelia, a town of Umbria, in central Italy. While under house arrest of Judge Asterius, and discussing his faith with him, Valentinus (the Latin version of his name) was discussing the validity of Jesus. The judge put Valentinus to the test and brought to him the judge's adopted blind daughter. If Valentinus succeeded in restoring the girl's sight, Asterius would do whatever he asked. Valentinus laid his hands on her eyes and the child's vision was restored. Immediately humbled, the judge asked Valentinus what he should do. Valentinus replied that all of the idols around the judge's house should be broken, and that the judge should fast for three days and then undergo baptism. The judge obeyed and, as a result, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family, and his forty-four member household (family members and servants) were baptized. Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to proselytize and was sent to the prefect of Rome, to the emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II) himself. Claudius took a liking to him until Valentinus tried to convince Claudius to embrace Christianity, whereupon Claudius refused and condemned Valentinus to death, commanding that Valentinus either renounce his faith or he would be beaten with clubs, and beheaded. Valentinus refused and Claudius' command was executed outside the Flaminian Gate February 14, 269.
The Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, gives sufficient details of the saints for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on each occasion. The very brief vita of St Valentine has him executed for refusing to deny Christ by the order of the "Emperor Claudius" in the year 269. Before his head was cut off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of "Valentine", "as containing valour".
A popularly ascribed hagiographical identity appears in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). Alongside a woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius Gothicus. He 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. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner. However, when Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor, he was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stones; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.
There are many other legends behind Saint Valentine. One is that in the 3rd century AD it is said that Valentine, who was a priest, defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly married couples so that the husbands wouldn't have to go to war. The legend claims that soldiers were sparse at this time so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. Another legend is that Valentine 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".
Churches named Valentine
Saint Valentine was not exceptionally more venerated than other saints and it seems that in England no church was ever dedicated to him. There are many churches containing the name of Valentine in other countries such as Italy.
A 5th- or 6th-century work called Passio Marii et Marthae made up a legend about Saint Valentine's Basilica being dedicated to Saint Valentine in Rome. A later Passio repeated the legend and added the adornment that Pope Julius I (357–352) had built the ancient basilica S. Valentini extra Portam on top of his sepulchre, in the Via Flaminia. This church was really named after a 4th-century tribune called Valentino, who donated the land on which it is built. It hosted the martyr's relics until the 13th century, when they were transferred to Santa Prassede, and the ancient basilica decayed.
Saint Valentine's Day
English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested that Valentine's Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia (mid-February in Rome). This idea has lately been dismissed by other researchers, such as Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas, Henry Ansgar Kelly of the University of California, Los Angeles and Associate Professor Michael Matthew Kaylor of the Masaryk University. Many of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.
Oruch charges that the traditions associated with "Valentine's Day", documented in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, did not exist before Chaucer. He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler's Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from a Vies des Saints (illustration above), Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni; there is no suggestion here that the bishop was a patron of lovers.
During the Middle Ages, it was believed that birds paired in mid-February. This was then associated with the romance of Valentine. Although these legends differ, Valentine’s Day is widely recognized as a day for romance and devotion.
Relics and liturgical celebration
The flower-crowned alleged skull of St. Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.
St. Valentine's remains are deposited in St Anton's Church, Madrid, where they have lain since the late 1700s. They were a present from the Pope to King Carlos IV, who entrusted them to the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (Piarists). The relics have been displayed publicly since 1984, in a foundation open to the public at all times in order help people in need.
St. Valentine's remains are also claimed to be in Dublin. In 1836, some 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, and transported to the procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love. Also in 1836, Fr. John Spratt, an Irish priest and famous preacher, was given many tokens of esteem following a sermon in Rome. One gift from Pope Gregory XVI were the remains of St. Valentine and "a small vessel tinged with his blood." The Reliquary was placed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and has remained there until this day. This was accompanied by a letter claiming the relics were those of St. Valentine.
Relics can also be found in the Greek island of Lesbos.
Alleged relics of St. Valentine also lie at the reliquary of Roquemaure, Gard, France, in the St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, in Balzan in Malta and also in Blessed John Duns Scotus' church in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland. There is also a gold reliquary bearing the words "Corpus St. Valentin, M" (Body of St. Valentine, Martyr) at Birmingham Oratory, UK, in one of the side altars in the main church.
Saint Valentine remains in the Roman 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 General Roman Calendar, when this was revised in 1969. It is included in local calendars of places such as Balzan in Malta. Some Traditionalist Catholics observe earlier calendars of the Roman Rite, in which Saint Valentine was celebrated as a Simple Feast until 1955, when Pope Pius XII reduced the mention of him to a commemoration in the Mass of the day, a position it kept in the General Roman Calendar of 1960 incorporated in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, use of which, as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is still authorized in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
February 14 is also celebrated as St. Valentine's Day in other Christian Churches; in the Church of England, for example, it was included in Calendars before the Reformation, and S.Valentine, Bishop and Martyr, was restored to the Church's Calendar in the 1661–62 Book of Common Prayer. He remains in the Calendars of the Church of England and in those of most other parts of the Anglican Communion, albeit sometimes noted as an ancient memorial of obscure historical character.
- Jones, Terry. "Valentine of Terni". Patron Saints Tom. Archived from the original on April 1, 2010. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
- 6 surprising facts about St Valentine
- Calendarium Romanum Libreria Editrice Vaticana (1969), p. 117
- Roman Martyrology, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001, p. 141
- General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 355
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February 14 Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
- Pfatteicher, Philip H. (August 1, 2008). New Book of Festivals and Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints. Fortress Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780800621285. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
- Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter and those with him at Rome. Orthodox Church in America website.
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- René Aigrain, Hagiographie: Ses sources, ses méthodes, son histoire, (Paris 1953, pp 268–69; Agostino S. Amore, "S. Valentino di Roma o di Terni?", Antonianum 41.(1966), pp 260–77.
- Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1983, p. 1423
- San Valentino: Biografia. Archived December 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. Diocese of Terni. 2009. English version, written probably after examining all previous sources.
- Martyrologium Romanum 2001, February 14, p. 141.
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- "Latin saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
- Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001. Index, p. 768; Saint Valentina okay finep. 390.
- Castleden, Rodney, "The Book of Saints". 2006, p.28.
- "St. Valentine". Catholic Online.
- Under the circumstances, the Emperor Claudius was a detail meant to enhance verisimilitude. Attempts to identify him with the only 3rd-century Claudius, Claudius Gothicus, who spent his brief reign (268–270) away from Rome winning his cognomen, are illusions in pursuit of a literary phantom: "No evidence outside several late saints' legends suggests that Claudius II reversed the policy of toleration established by the policy of his predecessor Gallienus", Jack Oruch states, in "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February", Speculum 56.3 (July 1981), p 536, referencing William H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church (New York, 1967, p 326.
- Jack Oruch, "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February", Speculum 56.3 (July 1981 pp 534–565) p 535.
- Henry Ansgar Kelly, in Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine. 1986, p. 62, says: As Thurston has noted, no English church is known to have been dedicated to St. Valentine (Thurston, Butler's Lives, 2:217). I should add that we have no record of a large number of churches in England.
- Ansgar, 1986, pp. 49–50
- Christian Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo (Florence: Olschki, (On-line text).
- Henry Ansgar Kelly (1986). Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine. BRILL. pp. 58–63. ISBN 90-04-07849-5.
- Michael Matthew Kaylor (2006). Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde (electronic ed.). Masaryk University Press. p. footnote 2 in page 235. ISBN 80-210-4126-9.
- Jack Oruch identified the inception of this possible connection in Butler's Lives of the... Saints, 1756, and Douce's Illustrations of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Manner, see Oruch, Jack B. (July 1981). "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February". Speculum. 56 (3): 534. doi:10.2307/2847741.
- Oruch, Jack B. (July 1981). "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February". Speculum. 56 (3): 534–565. doi:10.2307/2847741.
- BN, Mss fr. 185. The book of Lives of the Saints, with illuminations by Richard de Montbaston and collaborators, was among the manuscripts that Cardinal Richelieu bequeathed to the King of France.
- Shrine of St Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Irish Province of the Order of Carmelites Archived January 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Radio Praha - Ostatky sv.Valentýna jsou uloženy na pražském Vyšehradě". radio.cz.
- "Chełmno - miasto zabytków i zakochanych". chelmno.pl. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015.
- "Skull bits of St. Valentine in Chelmno". Atlas Obscura.
- "The Holy Relics of St. Valentine Lie on Lesbos Island". Greek Reporter.
- See February calendar listed here on the Church of England website.
- Johannes Baptista de Rossi et Ludovicus Duchesne, ed., Martyrologium Hieronymianum: ad fidem codicum adiectis prolegomenis. Ex Actibus Sanctorum Novembris, Tomi II, pars prior. Bruxellis 1894. lxxxii, 195 p. S. Valentinus, p. 20.
- De Voragine, Jacobus. The Life of Saint Valentine. In Legenda Aurea, compiled around 1275
- Thurston, Herbert. St. Valentine. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol.15. 1912.
- Hülsen, Christian. 1927. Le chiese di Roma nel medio evo: cataloghi ed appunti. Florence. CXV, 640 p. (On-line text).
- Thurston, Herbert. 1933. St. Valentine, Martyr. In Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints, Vol. II, pp. 214–217. New York . 409 p..
- Aigrain, René. 1953. Hagiographie: Ses sources, ses méthodes, son histoire. Paris 1953.
- Amore, Agostino. 1966. S. Valentino di Roma o di Terni?, Antonianum 41 (1966), pp 260–77.
- Kellogg, Alfred. 1972. Chaucer's St. Valentine: A Conjecture. In Kellogg, Chaucer, Langland, Arthur. 1972, pp. 108–145.
- Amore, Agostino. 1975. I martiri di Roma. Roma, Antonianum, 1975. 322 p.
- Kelly, Henry Ansgar 1986. Chaucer and the cult of Saint Valentine. Leiden, the Netherlands. 185 p.
- Martyrologium Romanum 2001. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001, p. 141 (February 14). 773 p.
- In Search of St. Valentine. Scotsman.com blog, 14 February 2005.
- Oruch, Jack B. 1981. St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February, Speculum 56 (July 1981), pp 534–565.
- Schoepflin, Maurizio and Seren, Linda. 2000. San Valentino di Terni : storia, tradizione, devozione. Morena (Roma), 2000. 111 p.
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- Saint Valentine: Biography. Diocese of Terni. 2009.