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Saint Joseph’s R.C. Parish


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Webmaster Deacon Mark

Who Was Saint Valentine?

And perhaps you might also ask, what happened to his feast day? If you take a look at the saint of the day as celebrated by the Church on the 14th of February, you won’t find Valentine. No, it’s not a mistake; on the 14th of February the church has us celebrating/remembering Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, co-patrons of Europe.

Taking a look through the ancient books of Roman martyrology reaveals two Valentines. One a priest, one a bishop - both martyrs of the 3rd century. The people who study these things all the time think that they are one and the same person. It may well have been this uncertainty about Valentine’s identity that got him replaced by Cyril and Methodius.

So what about the love thing? Well, it seems to be just coincidence. People used to believe that birds paired on February 14th (there are references to this in the writings of Geoffery Chaucer). There is also a long-since abandoned Roman (i.e. pagan) festival called Lupercalia which had a pick-your-partner type element. This happened in the middle of February, and most likely the Valentine’s Day tradition is influenced a little bit by both things.

Deacon Mark Howe

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