Valentine is a favorite saint, receiving recognition well beyond the influence of the Catholic Church because of his association with love and lovers. Hallmark Cards, florists, restaurants and chocolate makers all capitalize on the day dedicated to the memory of this saint.
Surprisingly, very little is actually known about the man. There are two traditional narratives about the historical Valentine – one that he was a priest in the city of Rome; the other that he was bishop in the city of Terni. Whether priest or bishop, we know he was martyred in 269 along the Flaminian Way and that his relics were later transferred to Rome’s church of Saint Praxedes.
One of the theories explaining why Valentine is linked to lovers involves the 14th-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer wrote a poem suggesting that birds choose their mates on February 14. Another theory is that the celebration is a Christianized version of the pagan festival of Lupercalia – celebrated on February 15.
The name Valentine is from Latin and it means “strong and healthy.” Valentine’s strength came from his belief in Jesus, who he served throughout his priestly ministry by helping those in need. He performed many miracles of healing and is particularly known as the patron of epileptics because the account of his life includes the restoration of an epileptic child. He gave his life so that others could live strong and healthy lives!
At Cross Catholic Outreach, we believe self-sacrifice and love should be the hallmarks of our ministry, and we welcome those who share our compassion for the poor and suffering.
– Fr. Bernard Olszewski, Outreach Priest