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Saint Valentine’s Revenge

posted Feb 11, 2019, 3:54 PM by Kristin Snell

by Diana Pasquini, San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center

Saint Valentine would be amazed to discover his name emblazoned on the many greeting cards and delectable treats that are marketed as gifts on his feast day. He would also be astounded and rather confused to learn that the Roman god of erotic love, Cupid, has been adopted as a sort of mascot on the day that commemorates Valentine’s Christian martyrdom at the hands of the Romans back in 269.

Although his skull is adorned with flowers and on display in a Roman basilica, Valentine has become far more well-known as a patron of romantic love than as a pious priest. Also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, fainting, and plague, Valentine’s popularity is definitely linked to Love; and he’s been pretty good for business, enriching the coffers of florists, confectioners, jewelers, romantic bistros, vintners, and greeting card companies. This is Saint Valentine’s revenge: Murdered at the whim of an angry, now obscure emperor, Valentine has survived as the bringer of tokens on love; and, accompanied by his winged sidekick, Cupid, Valentine’s name has achieved iconic status.

When one receives a card or a little candy heart asking “Will you be my Valentine?” it’s not likely a suggestion that one lay down one’s life as St. Valentine did for his faith. No muss, no fuss, sometimes a little cheesy, but almost always well intentioned, it’s a simple way to say “I love you.” While still a patron of erotic love, Valentine’s sphere also includes fondness, affection, and good will. Love and friendship should be the most abundant commodities on Earth. Yet they are so highly prized because they appear to be rare. Extending a hand in friendship, a kind gesture, a genuine smile, a warm heart cost nothing, yet such simple acts of kindness are precious beyond measure. And now I really must ask, will you be my valentine?