St Valentine's Day a Chance to Honour Marriage & Lifelong Romantic Love

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
13 Feb 2015

St Valentine's is patron saint of marriage and romantic love

Tomorrow the world celebrates St Valentine's Day. For florists this is their biggest day the year with long stemmed red roses number one sellers.  For card makers and chocolatiers there is also a bonanza in sales as romance is feted in cities and towns across Australia. But what is too often forgotten is that St Valentine's Day is based on the feast day of a legendary saint.

For Catholics, tomorrow should be a day when we put the Saint back in St Valentine's Day.

"In a culture that is increasingly intolerant of Christian values and beliefs, feasts that have captured the imagination of the secular community like St Valentine's Day represent a unique opportunity for the Church," says Bishop Eugene Hurley, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.

"The day is an opportunity for the joyful support for deeply held life-giving values that are shared by many in the community and is a chance to honour marriage and life-long romantic love," he says and in the midst of the commercialisation of St Valentine's Day, he urges us to highlight the positive good of our values and the need to protect them for the benefit of the community and for society as a whole.

St Valentine is believed to have been a priest in Rome during the third century when Emperor Claudius II ruled the Roman Empire and desperate to recruit more soldiers to his armies, suspended all weddings to encourage single men with no family responsibilities to enlist and serve in combat.

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Legend has it that after witnessing the anguish of young couples in love but unable to marry, St Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies in defiance of the Emperor. Another legend holds that while awaiting his execution, he restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter and reportedly penned a farewell not to her signed "Your Valentine."

St Valentine is believe  to have been beheaded by the Emperor on 14 February 269 and buried on the Flaminian Way in Rome where archaeologists have uneathed a catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to his name.

Although the St Valentine's feast day is no longer on the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar, he remains Patron Saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, love and lovers and is arguably one of the world's most well-known saints and is commemorated by Christians and non-Christians alike.

But in the commercial frenzy of today's world, not only has the Saint of Valentine's Day been dropped by the secular world but the age-old sacred tradition of honouring romantic love in the context of marriage and life-long love has been replaced by a romantic free-for-all where love of all persuasions, genders and degrees is celebrated.

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"It's important we put the Saint back in St Valentine's Day and reclaim the day as our own," says Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life, Family and Marriage Centre.

St Valentine's Day has also suffered and to help us remember what the feast day really means, for the past six years the Bishops Commission Pastoral Life through the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council has created a St Valentine's Day resource kit to reaffirm the importance of the vocation of Christian marriage and the joy and rewards of life-long romantic married love.

"In a culture that is increasingly intolerant of Christian values and beliefs, feasts that have captured the imagination of the secular community, like St Valentine's Day, represent a unique opportunity for the Church," Bishop Hurley said.

It is an opportunity for joyful support for deeply held life-giving values that are shared by many i the wider community.

"In doing so, we highlight the positive good that such values have and reinforce the need to protect them for the benefit of the whole community."

The resource also provides couples, parishes and schools with prayers and liturgy for this day and why marriage is the bedrock of society.

Across all cultures and all centuries traditional marriage has been
bedrock of society

Throughout history across all cultures, faiths and periods of time, marriage has been society's foundation and not only provided stability but an enduring, loving and ideal environment in which to raise children to become strong, independent adults.

But in modern times, marriage and traditional values have come under increasing under attack and no longer considered by many in the secular world as important or even necessary.

Private member bills aimed at legalising same sex marriage continue to be presented to state and federal parliaments with calls for  same sex couples not only to be able to legally adopt children but to have their names put on the child's birth certificate. The importance of couples was under further attack earlier this month when British MPs voted in favour of the creation of babies with DNA from two women and one man. The Bill which was passed by 382 MPs with 128 against approves a new IVF technique that involves the DNA of three people to prevent genetic diseases being passed on by from mother to child.

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If the House of Lords agrees to what is being called "a gene step too far" the UK is set to become the first country to introduce laws to permit "three person babies."

Prime Minister David Cameron insists "We are not playing God here, we are just making sure that two parents who want a healthy baby can have one."

Britain's Catholic and Anglican Churches however are strongly opposed, arguing that tampering with DNA is neither safe nor ethical. They are voicing deep concern that passage of the Bill will open the door  to so called designer-babies, genetically modified for beauty, intelligence and free of disease.

The 2015 St Valentine's Day Resource Kit prepared by the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, which includes notes for liturgies, prayers of the faithful, readings, blessings for couples, offertory prayers, homily notes for parish Masses and school celebrations, can be accessed by logging on to