Jesus, I had long
forgotten a little boy from my Crestwood School days whose name was Ronald
Valentine and he has come to my memory several times over the last few days. We
were in second grade and I remember coming to school to learn that Ronald's
mother passed away and how awful that was to imagine losing your mother and
especially when you are just a child. All these years I have had my mom and been so blessed and nothing would make me
happier than to see Ronald's mother come back in the First Resurrection. Any
"There are so many people including Mrs. Valentine who will be coming soon to be reunited with their loved ones and I have such special plans to restore not only bodies but to restore the time lost and to make it up in ways that no one could possibly be expecting. It is this vision and sure knowledge from God that has kept you and I going through these last few years as we have battled every dark foe who has tried to prevent this from happening. But Jehovah has been determined and has put that same determination into us. Happy Valentine's Day!"
The Irish Link to St. Valentine
by Bridget Haggerty
young girl growing up in England in the 50s, I loved sending and receiving
Valentine cards - messages that were always unsigned. As the sender, one would
go to great lengths to disguise the source of the card. As the recipient, the
fun was in trying to figure out the identity of your secret admirer.
When I came to the
United States in the early 60s, imagine my surprise to learn that the custom
here was to identify the sender. Not only that, cards were often sent to
relatives, such as your mom and dad! It didn't seem very appropriate to me,
then or now. In fact, I still think it's very odd and, while I have capitulated
to custom and sign the card I give to my husband, there's a part of me that
still wishes Valentine's Day could be like it once was - shrouded in romantic
Whether you sign your cards or choose to remain anonymous, have you ever wondered how this annual ritual began? Here's what the research into the history of St. Valentine revealed - and, much to my surprise - a link to Ireland that I was totally unaware of.
Today, the Catholic
Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or
Valentinus. One legend says that Valentine was a priest who served during the
third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made
better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for
young, unattached males. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree,
defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages in secret for young lovers.
When Valentine's defiance was discovered, Claudius ordered him put to death.
Another story suggests that Valentine may have been martyred for trying to help
Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and
tortured. Yet another legend says the saint was the one who sent the very first
Valentine. According to the story, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter
while he was in prison and sent her a message of affection, signed "From
While much of what
is written about the saint is, at best, very murky and unreliable, these
stories certainly illustrate his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, romantic
figure. So, it's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the
most popular saints in England and France. But why is his day celebrated in
mid-February? There are those that believe it's to commemorate the anniversary
of his death which occurred around 270 AD. However, it's more likely that the
Church decided to make this day the feast of St. Valentine in an effort to
christianize Lupercalia, an ancient pagan festival.
In ancient Rome,
February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for
purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then
sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors.
Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February - February 15 - was a fertility
festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the
founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. To begin the festival, members of the
Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the
infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or
lupa. The priests sacrificed a goat for fertility, and then, young boys sliced
the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to
the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goat-hide
strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the
hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the
coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the
city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each
choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen
woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
declared February 14th as St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman
'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.
Much, much later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France
and England that February 14th was when birds began to mate which added to the
idea that the middle of February - Valentine's Day - should be a day for
In Great Britain,
Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth
century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and
lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or
handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace
written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards
were an easy way for people to express their emotions at a time when direct
expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also
contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day
greetings. Here in the United States, we probably began exchanging hand-made
Valentines in the early 1700s and then, in the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began
to sell the first mass-produced Valentines in America.
According to the
Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent
each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of
the year. Christmas is the first.
So, we've come this far and earlier, I mentioned a link to Ireland. According to Mike McCormick in an article that appears on the Ancient Order Of Hibernian's web site ..."though the red heart has become the traditional symbol of Valentine's Day, there may be reason to also consider the shamrock, for there is an Irish connection."
While there's no
definitive written account of St. Valentine and his life in the third century,
his Irish connection is more recent - and documented. In the year 1836, Pope
Gregory XVI sent a gift to the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street, Dublin,
in recognition of the work of the church's former prior, Father John Spratt,
who was widely recognized as a very holy man. The gift was a relic of a
Christian martyr: a small gold-bound casket containing the earthly remains of
St. Valentine. The relic had been exhumed from the cemetery of St. Hyppolytus
on the Tiburtine Way in Rome, placed in a golden casket, and brought to Dublin,
where it was enshrined in the little church with great ceremony. This year, on
February 14th, as it has in every year since, the casket containing the Saint's
mortal remains will be carried in solemn procession to the high altar of the
Carmelite Church for a special Mass dedicated to young people and those in
love. If you're lucky enough to be there, this little known Dublin church also
sells Valentine's Day cards. Truly, it can be said - these are the genuine
For those wishing to
visit St. Valentine's Shrine in Dublin, the church is located between Aungier
Street and Wexford Street, just a few minutes walk west of St Stephen's Green.
Besides the cards, one can also purchase various souvenirs bearing the saint's
While I'd love to be
there, it looks very unlikely that I'll be purchasing a card at the Carmelite
Church in Dublin for my husband this year; but, I've decided not to buy him a
ready-made card anyway. As much as St. Valentine is connected with love and romance,
Ireland and her poets are every bit as rich a resource for communicating
expressions of passion and affection. So, I'm going to create my own card;
select a poem from literally hundreds, probably thousands of Irish verses, that
express my feelings. Or, just may be, this year I'll dedicate to him something
of my own. Then, I'll arrange to have it mailed from somewhere afar. Perhaps,
Ireland. Best of all, I'm not going to sign it. All of that said, I'll leave
you with these timeless words of love by Thomas Moore. He married his beloved
Bessie in 1811. Whatever looks she may have had were ruined by a skin disease
after they had been married for some time and she feared that, as a result, she
might lose his affection. His reply was to write one of the most beautiful love
songs to her as reassurance:
Believe me if all those endearing young charms
which I gaze on so fondly today
were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms
like fairy gifts fading away,
Thou would'st still be adored as this moment thou art
Let thy loveliness fade as it will
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
would entwine itself verdantly still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear
That the fervour and faith of a soul can be known
To which time will but make thee more dear.
Oh! the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her God when he sets
The same look that she gave when he rose.
Happy Valentine's Day -
especially to all of you who have subscribed to these efforts. We've been
privileged to get to know more than a few readers from comments and emails -
but most subscribers remain anonymous. We think of you as our very own group of
secret readers who seem to enjoy finding out as much about Ireland as we do.
May it always be so.