In my ongoing efforts to destroy any joy you might have during holidays or other gift-buying opportunities, I thought I’d say a few words about Valentine’s Day.
When I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, my mother bought me a book of saints. It amazes me to this day that I managed to get this far in the Catholic Church knowing almost nothing about the Catholic Church. I knew about St. Francis, of course. Partly, this was because I shared his name. Mostly, however, it was because I was crazy for Theater of the Absurd and I had read Tiny Alice. But the thing is, Francis of Assisi was an exception for a Saint—in terms of his death; like the rest, he was a nut-job. The book of saints showed that the normal way to become a saint was to get murdered, usually in a suicidal effort to push your religious beliefs in the faces of others.
And so we come to St. Valentine. Unfortunately, St. Valentine was not one guy, but two or maybe three. The early church was not good at keeping records.
First, there is Valentine of Rome. According to Catholic Online:
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II [Not the I, Claudius guy -FM]. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270.
That’s how I want to go: beaten with clubs in defense of an imaginary god! You go, priest!
Second, there is Valentine of Turni, who was born around 175 AD in Turni, Italy. Check out this bit of information from Saints.SQNP [Bold mine]:
Noted evangelist, miracle worker and healer, he was much loved by his flock. Imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded by order of the prefect Placid Furius during the persecution of Aurelius. He was murdered in secret and at night to avoid riots and revenge by the people of Terni. Some scholars believe that he and Saint Valentine of Rome are the same person.
Okay, more of the same: tortured, beheaded; the usual things you associate with Valentine’s Day. But dig that last sentence! Some scholars think that a guy who died around 197 AD might be the same guy who died around 270 AD. They aren’t even sure that these guys who lived almost a century apart aren’t the same. And they think we should believe them about Jesus who supposedly lived 200 years earlier. Amazing!
Have a happy Valentine’s day! Do your part for the chocolate, flower, and greeting card industries. But just remember: real men were beheaded so you could have this day. So keep their headless corpses in your mind while you enjoy this day with your special someone. And if you don’t have a special someone, go find a cop to abuse; I’m sure he’ll be happy to beat you to death with a club.