We can’t have too many St. Valentines
If you've ever spent any time in the northern climates of Europe or North America in February, then you know why the Catholic Church has a St. Valentine's Day.
It's midway between Christmas and Easter, cold, cloudy and dismal. We're all in need of a celebration, preferably one that is warm and fuzzy. It's a time when love and romance are needed but not necessarily in evidence.
Enter St. Valentine's Day. The Catholic Church, if nothing else, is practical. There are patron saints for virtually everything. If you have a profession, there is a patron saint for it. If you have a health condition, there is a patron saint to whom you can pray.
The patron saint of architects is St. Barbara, and she's also the patron of artillery. Go figure. St. Thomas More doubles as the patron for difficult marriages and attorneys. Any connection noted here? The patron for procrastinators is St. Expedite. I'm not making this up, I assure you.
My research finds that St. Valentine was born near Rome in A.D. 175. Another fellow with same name was martyred in A.D. 269. There is a third St. Valentine from somewhere in Africa. What all have in common was that they were wonderful men who supported young couples in their search for love and romance.
What church in its right mind wouldn't hold these men up for consideration as role models, raise them to the level of saint as proclaimed by vox populi (voice of the people), establish a feast day on Feb. 14 (a former pagan holiday) and celebrate the love of God while recognizing men and women's love for each other? Talk about win-win!
In another practical consideration, there are more greeting cards (Valentines) sent out on this day than on any other day except Christmas. The floral industry prospers, chocolates are in great demand, restaurants are packed, balloon sales are up and I've heard (no personal experience) that lingerie shops are crowded with red-faced men with fat checkbooks. God's people prosper!
On the personal side, St. Valentine's Day is special for me. My mother and father met at a St. Valentine's Day dance in Chicago in 1924. They were married in 1928, and I came into this wonderful world in January of 1939, just in time to miss the great Depression.
I might owe my very existence to St. Valentine, whether he existed or not. For my part, I believe in St. Valentine, possibly in several of them. To have three might very well not be enough. Let me be the first to say we need more St. Valentines.
This leads me to my final point. We need a female patron saint for romance and lovers. This is where the church confuses me. I looked up the patron saint for pregnant women and found two, namely St. Gerard and St. Raymond, both men.
St. Clara and St. Gabriel the Archangel are patrons for television. That's a woman and an angel. St. Joan of Arc shares the patronage of soldiers with St. George and St. Sebastian. That's still two to one for men.
In today's world there's too much war and not enough peace, too much hatred and not enough love, too much selfishness and not enough romance. Now is the time to enlist a few female patron saints to help out the current St. Valentines. These men are overworked and just not getting the job done well enough. Is there a St. Romancia in our future?
Brother Greg O'Donnell is president of Damien Memorial School.