ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE
The Real Life of Saint Valentine
Feast day: February 14, +269
The ancient martyrology of the Church of Rome marks February 14th as the remembrance of “the martyr Valentine, presbyter of Rome” (Valentinus means “vigorous” in Latin).
The Martyrdom of Saint Valentine in Rome
Saint Valentine lived in Rome in the third century and was a priest who helped the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II the Goth. The great virtue and catechetical activities of the Saint had become familiar. For this he was arrested and brought before the imperial court.
“Why, Valentine, do you want to be a friend of our enemies and reject our friendship?” asked the emperor.
The Saint replied “My lord, if you knew the gift of God, you would be happy together with your empire and would reject the worship of idols and worship the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.”
One of these judges stopped the Saint and asked him what he thought about Jupiter and Mercury, and Valentine boldly replied, “They are miserable, and spent their lives through corruption and crime!”
The judge furiously shouted, “He blasphemes against the gods and against the empire!”
The emperor, however, continued his questions with curiosity, and found a welcome opportunity to finally learn what was the faith of Christians. Valentine then found the courage to urge him to repent for the blood of the Christians that was shed. “Believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and you will be saved, and from this time forward the glory of your empire will be ensured as well as the triumph of your armory.”
Claudius became convinced, and said to those who were present: “What a beautiful teaching this man preaches.”
But the mayor of Rome, dissatisfied, began to shout: “See how this Christian mislead our Prince.”
Then Claudius brought the Saint to another judge. He was called Asterios, and he had a little girl who was blind for two years. Listening about Jesus Christ, that He is the Light of the World, he asked Valentine if he could give that light to his child. St. Valentine put his hand on her eyes and prayed: “Lord Jesus Christ, true Light, illuminate this blind child.” Oh the great miracle! The child saw! So the judge with all his family confessed Christ. Having fasted for three days, he destroyed the idols that were in the house and finally received Holy Baptism.
When the emperor heard about all these events, he initially thought not to punish them, thinking that in the eyes of the citizens he will look weak, which forced him to betray his sense of justice. Therefore St. Valentine along with other Christians, after they were tortured, were beheaded on 14 February in the year 268 (or 269).
3 photos from the Holy Relics of Saint Valentine
The Relics of Saint Valentine in Athens, Greece
After the martyrdom some Christians salvaged the body of the Saint and put a bit of his blood in a vile. The body of the martyr was moved and buried in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla, a burial place of most of the martyrs. Over the years somehow he was “forgotten” since almost every day there were buried in these catacombs new martyrs for several decades. The memory of Valentine’s martyrdom however remained robust, particularly in the local Church of Rome. Officially the memory of St. Valentine was established in 496 by Pope St. Gelasius.
Roman Catholics were detached from the body of the Church in 1054 AD. So Saint Valentine is a Saint of the Holy, One, Apostolic & Catholic Orthodox Church (Eastern Orthodox Church) because he martyred on 269 AD before the Great Schism.
Fifteen centuries pass and we arrive at 1815, at which time the divine intention was to “disturb” the eternal repose of the Saint. Then the relics were donated by the Pope to a gentle Italian priest (according to the custom of the time). After this the relics are “lost” again until 1907 where we find them in Mytilene (Lesvos Island, Greece) in the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady. It seems that after the death of the priest that a descendant of his had inherited the relics who had migrated to Mytilene, which was then a thriving community of West-European Catholic Christians. There they remained until 1990 when they were moved to Athens in a Roman Catholic Italian community, where they are today.
Saint Valentine the Greek,
from Athens, Greece
We should first say that there is not sufficient information on the national origin of the Saint, though there are some other (shades of) evidence that the Saint was of Greek origin. For example, the earliest depiction of the Saint bearing the inscription «O ΑΓΙΟC BAΛΕΝΤΙΝΟC” in Greek, is in the Church of Our Lady the Ancient (Santa Maria Antiqua) of the 6th century which was the parish of Greeks in Rome. The church particularly venerated saints who were Greeks and generally from the East. The decoration and renovation of the church was ordered by the Greek Pope John VII (705-707) and finished by his successors, including the last Greek Pope Zacharias (741-752). But perhaps it is no coincidence that after seventeen centuries, the remains arrived in Greece.
We hope that the Holy Relics of St. Valentine will return soon to his Home, to the Eastern Orthodox Church, as recently miraculously returned the Holy Relics of St. Savvas the Sanctified which they had the Roman Catholics as in 1965.
Photos: The Holy Relics of St Sabbas the Sanctified
Video: The miraculous return of the Relics of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified
from Roman Catholics to Eastern Orthodox Church
St. Sabbas the Sanctified during his lifetime told his disciples that his incorrupt body would be removed from his monastery and later would rest in the Lavra, which he founded. He said this return of his relics would come before the end of the world. This prophecy was fulfilled when the holy relics of St. Sabbas were stolen by the crusaders of the First Crusade (1096 – 1099) together with many other relics and brought to Venice, Italy where he was enshrined in a church dedicated to St. Anthony. Nearly nine centuries later his relics were returned to Israel.
On 10 October 1965 the relics of St. Savvas were returned by Pope Paul VI to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The reception was made, at the direction of Patriarch Benediktos of Jerusalem, by Bishop Vasilios of Jerusalem, Fr. Theodosios the Abbot of Bethany, Fr. Seraphim the Abbot of St. Savvas Lavra, and the Hierodeacon (and future Metropolitan of Nazareth) Kyriakos.
Though it is commonly recorded that this gesture on behalf of the Pope was made merely as an ecumenical gesture, such as that of the skull of St. Andrew in Patras, with regards to the return of the relics of St. Savvas there is more to the story. In fact, it was St. Savvas himself who was urging Pope Paul VI to have his relics returned, appearing first to his predecessor Pope John XXIII in his dreams and causing a scene in his reliquary.
Fr. Seraphim, the Abbot of St. Savvas Lavra, explains everything as follows:
“The Pope did not give us the holy relic because he loved us, but because he [St. Savvas] would constantly appear to him [Pope John XXIII] and would bother him to have his relics returned to his monastery. When the Pope died he did not take the wishes of the Saint into account, so he appeared again to his successor [Pope Paul VI]. Even in the church where his holy relics were treasured in a glass coffin, he would hit the glass and cause trouble, frightening the guards and the Latin monks.”
Patriarch Benediktos had insisted that Fr. Seraphim attend the reception of the relics. He even told the Abbot: “In your days, Fr. Seraphim, Saint Savvas has returned!” Fr. Seraphim responded: “No, in your days, Your Holiness.”
When the Orthodox representatives arrived at the Church of Saint Anthony in Venice they wondered if indeed these were the relics of Saint Savvas. Fr. Seraphim observed every inch of the incorrupt relic to see if he could see a sign of authenticity. He noticed that one of the eyes of St. Savvas was missing. This proved it for him, since in his biography it is said that the Monophysites removed one of his eyes. Moved by this Fr. Seraphim would not leave the side of the relics till they arrived at his monastery. Even when the holy relics arrived in Athens where they were to be venerated by the faithful prior to the return, Fr. Seraphim stood all night guarding the holy relics while everyone else was sleeping. Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth describes the scene as if Fr. Seraphim and St. Savvas were having a conversation that night.
A problem arose when it came time to dress the holy relics in Orthodox vestments, since the Latins had dressed him in Latin vestments. After nine centuries it would be impossible to manoeuvre the body so as to put on the rason, the monastic schema and epitrachelion among other things. To further complicate matters, the hands of St. Savvas were crossed over his chest. Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth describes what then happened as follows: “We then saw Abbot Seraphim kneel before the holy relics and pray for a good amount of time. At one point he arose and did prostrations and lifted the arms of Saint Savvas as one would a living man before the amazed eyes of us all.” They were able to change the vestments without a problem in Venice before the return to Jerusalem.
When the glass coffin arrived at the Piazza San Marco on the pier, there was a gondola that transported it by escort to an area near the airport. In a strange coincidence it was the same pier the sacred relic had disembarked centuries ago. Countless pigeons were gathered there, as if they were there to honor the event. Even many years later, when Fr. Seraphim and Metropolitan Kyriakos would reminisce about those days, they would always talk about the pigeons.
When the holy relics finally arrived in Jerusalem it was first brought to the Church of the Resurrection for many days. Here the women could venerate the holy relics prior to being brought permanently to the all-male monastic Lavra of St. Sabbas. Fr. Seraphim tells of a certain miracle at this time in Jerusalem. An Orthodox nun who was waiting to venerate the holy relics had doubts over whether or not the Latin’s had indeed given the authentic relics to the Orthodox. It was then that she saw the head of St. Savvas lift and turn to her, then it returned again in its place. Her joy removed all doubts.
(Elder Seraphim of Saint Sabba’s Monastery, Publications Migdonia – Greek book)
Saint Valentine: Patron of married andall that unite them love
and want to marry with Orthodox Christian Marriage.
Apart from the historical data we have for Valentine’s life, there is accompanied various stories, such as from those who say he is the patron Saint of married and all that unite them love and want to marry with Orthodox Christian Marriage.
The Saint had a reputation as a peacemaker, and one day while cultivating some roses from his garden, he heard a couple quarrel very vigorously. This shocked the Saint, who then cut a rose and approached the couple asking them to hear him. Even though they were dispirited, they obeyed the Saint and afterwards were offered a rose that blessed them. Immediately the love returned between them, and later they returned and asked the Saint to bless their marriage. Another tradition says that one of the charges against Valentine was that he did not adhere to the command of the emperor which stated that men who had not fulfilled their military obligations were not allowed to marry; meanwhile the Saint had blessed the marriage of young Christian soldiers with their beloveds.
Besides all this, the likely choice of him as the “saint of lovers” is to be associated with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, a fertility festival, celebrated by the Romans on February 15. Others connect the celebration of this feast with the mating season of birds during this period. Certainly, however, the Saint has nothing to do with the commercialism (marketing) of flowers, gifts and secular centers which trivialize Eros, this great gift of God.
Saint Valentine and Orthodoxy
Many, however, raise the objection that St. Valentine is not mentioned anywhere in the calendar of the Orthodox Church. Indeed on 14 February in the calendar of the Church there are commemorated Saints Auxentios, Maron and the martyrs Nicholas and Damian. The explanation is simple: in ancient times hagiographic directories, biographies and martyrologia were written to be primarily used locally in their own character, and the fame and reputation of a saint locally does not mean that it extended also throughout the Church. So there may be saints honored widely in one region and completely unknown in another, eg, St. Demetrios, who is famous throughout the Eastern Church, yet in the West is not honored at all, and is almost unknown, but this does not mean that he is not a saint. Another example of the modern Church: Many New-Martyrs of Greece (1453-1821) who in Greece is known, yet in Russia is completely unknown, but this does not mean that he is not a saint.
Honor Martyrs – Imitate Martyrs
We honor our saints and St. Valentine when we imitate their courage to proclaim their faith in Christ the Savior, who did so even at the cost of their lives. We honor them when we beseech them to appeal to God to have mercy on us and forgive our many sins. We honor them when they are our models of the life in Christ. We do not honor the saints when we measure their ‘worth’ by worldly amusements and festivities in the best circumstances…
So Orthodox Church have the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 (+269) as we see in the Orthodox site ORTHODOX ENGLAND:
http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/stdfeb.htm – ORTHODOX ENGLAND
http://sthermans.ca/saints-life-of-valentine.asp – ST HERMAN OF ALASKA ORTHODOX SOBOR
Price witness – Mimisis witness!
To imitate and to make the Valentine rejoice for us must live Christian lives near the Sacrament of Holy Confession by Orthodox Christian marriage (for those who wishing Marriage).
Here there are Confession hours to lead safely through Confession in the Orthodox Marriage having from God a blessed family!
St. John the Baptist Monastery Old Rectory,
Tolleshunt Knights by Maldon, Essex CM9 8EZ
Fr. Bill, Orthodox Church of Saints Paul & Peter
Fr. Ephraim Filotheitis
St Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona, USA
Encyclopedia New Advent (www.newadvent.org)
Patron Saints Index (www.catholic-forum.com/saints/indexsnt.htm)
Oxford Dictionary of Saints
Hellenism & Orthodoxy, Publications PSL Livani (Greek book)
Saint Valentine of Athens, Publications Good Type (Greek book)
Elder Seraphim of Saint Sabba’s Monastery, Publications Migdonia (Greek book)
ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE