Friday, February 14, 2014

St. Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine was an actual martyr. Here is an interesting summary:
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, in the calendar of F. Fronto and that of Allatius, in Bede, Usuard, Ado, Notker and all other martyrologies on this day. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day. (Read more.)
One morning I was perusing Michelle Lovric's exquisite anthology Love Letters and found a line from a letter of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her husband Robert Browning: "You have lifted up my soul into the light of your soul, and I am not ever likely to mistake it for the common daylight." I then went in search of her poems, still incomparable after so many years. Here is the most famous one:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.


Julygirl said...

It is wonderful to believe in love like that, and to have experienced it even for a short time, but they experienced it for a lifetime I presume.

il laboratorio said...

and what about St. Valentine, bishop of Terni, whose bady is still in the cathedral of the Italian town and who is revered as patron Saint of engagements and marriages? Since his memory is kept alive from centuries (and the Irish ite dates only from the 19th century), I keep the Italian shrine for true.

elena maria vidal said...

I have no doubt that both are true,for there were at least three martyrs known as St. Valentine in the years of Roman persecution.