The Catholic University of America

Chad Pecknold, associate professor, systematic theology, published an essay on St. Valentine in First Things. See below.


From: First Things
Date: Feb. 14, 2017
Author: Chad Pecknold


Recently I read a skeptic’s claim that medieval monks invented St. Valentine's Day. This account is an alternative to the fact that Pope Gelasius set St. Valentine’s feast day on February 14th in Anno Domini 496. So little is known about St. Valentine that even the Church, following the dubious claim of a book published in 1966 that the saint never existed, removed him from the liturgical calendar in 1969. It is an odd fact that St. Valentine’s feast is celebrated (in a deracinated way) by the world but not the Church. Since a basilica was built over his tomb just seventy-five years after his death by Pope Julius, and relics from his body were spread throughout the Roman Empire, the evidence of his existence seems manifest to me.


I've also seen, and probably shared, the funny meme about how St. Valentine was beaten bloody with clubs and martyred for his Christian faith—so give us a kiss! Between Hallmark and the chocolate companies, the day has become a way to empty our wallets more than our hearts. It's lamentable in a way, but also a testament to the power of this saint's day, that it still has a hold on the popular imagination. ...

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