Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, Feb. 14
From the Book on Ecclesiastical Writers by St. Jerome the Priest
ON this day is commemorated blessed Valentine, a priest of Rome who was martyred for Christ, probably in the persecution of Claudius the Goth, about the year 259. He was buried on the Flaminian Way ; and about 350 a church was built over his tomb, and later a catacomb was constructed there under, wherein were buried the remains of many Martyrs. This church, with its cemetery, was the first to greet the eyes of pilgrims coming to Rome to visit the sepulchres of the ancient heroes of the Faith, and therefore his cultus grew, and spread through the world. But in the early years of the ninth century, his body was transferred to the basilica of St. Praxedes lest, being outside of the walls of the city, it should be desecrated by the Saracens. The popular story is that holy Valentine was cajoled with promises in order to wean him from Christ ; and that when these failed he was beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded. In England, from the time of Chaucer onwards, there was a belief that on his feast-day the birds began to choose their mates. From which arose the custom of arranging betrothals in Saint Valentine's Tide ; and in honour of the fidelity of the servant of God, those who were betrothed called each other Valentine, as a pledge of their mutual fidelity, in token that those who wed are united together in Christ, of whose unbreakable union with humanity in his Church, the Sacrament of Marriage is ever an outward and visible sign.
Collect:Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that we who observe the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all evils that beset us. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.