Happy Ss. Cyril and Methodius day! Erm, isn’t this a post about St. Valentine? Well, it is, but we’ve got to begin by saying that it’s not actually St. Valentine’s feast day today! What? Wait a minute! Is this one of those weird Mandela Effect things?!
Well no. You see, we used to celebrate St. Valentine’s day on the 14th February, before the Second Vatican Council.
But we don’t know a great deal about St. Valentine, which is perhaps why the feast became a local, rather than a universal, feast. In fact there are not one, but two, third Century and martyrs called Valentine: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Both of these early saints were buried on the Via Flaminia in Rome. To make things more confusing, there is a third Valentine, martyred somewhere in Africa, who is mentioned in some texts, and he is also remembered on the 14th February!
And we can’t be sure about much more than that! The stories that later were later passed down about the Valentines depict brave men who challenged the hegemony of the pagan Roman Empire in order to tell people about Jesus.
There are lots of churches dedicated to St. Valentine, and lots of places that venerate relics of St. Valentine.
But did you know that one of those places is the Birmingham Oratory?!
When Blessed John Henry Newman founded the Oratory, the Pope gave Newman the remains of St. Valentine. Blessed John Henry Newman had some difficulty getting the relics through customs. Officials in Verona thought he should pay a duty! They recorded the remains as ‘a mummy’ and they are now enshrined at a side altar near the pulpit in the Oratory. The pope, Blessed Pius IX, also gave permission for the Oratory to celebrate St. Valentine’s feast on 21st February.
So folks, wish your loved ones a happy Ss. Cryil and Methodius Day today: You’ve actually got until this time next week to get a St. Valentine’s Day card. And why not take a moment to remember the real meaning of St. Valentine’s day? Although we know very little about those early martyrs, they gave their lives to tell the world of a love divine, all loves excelling.