The First Valentine
Did you know that "Valentine's Day" is actually the feast day of a Catholic Saint? Yes, Saint Valentine - a courageous martyr of the early Church. We hear the word 'valentine' used so often and frivolously, it's hard to believe it was the actual name of a real Saint.

But Saint Valentine was a real man, and he truly gave his life for the Catholic Faith. February 14th is his feast day because that is the day that, after heroically suffering many pains, he was beheaded and went to Heaven. And so his feast day, as with any of the Saints, is intended to commemorate his heroic life, virtues, and Love of God. Sadly, however, over time February 14th has been reduced to a very secular and generic holiday. It doesn't even have the word "Saint" in its title anymore. It used to be known - even in the secular public - as "St. Valentine's Day" (like "St. Patrick's Day").

The problem is that the way that people, even Catholics unfortunately, honored this Saint's feast day was by very worldly and sometimes even sinful practices. And so, once the true meaning of the day was lost, it was no surprise when the holy title was quietly and gradually dropped from the Saint's name. Nowadays most people would be shocked to learn that the Valentine of "Valentine's Day" is a real person, much less a Catholic Saint.

It is a sad state that February 14th has been set aside to honor a shallow, worldly 'love' of pink hearts and red balloons, instead of the Divine and true Love of the Saint whose name this holiday bears. How then can we honor St. Valentine as he deserves? How can we best please this abused and forgotten Saint on his day?

St. Francis de Sales actually faced similar problems back in the 17th century. As a loving and zealous bishop, St. Francis preached a very creative and practical solution for how to celebrate "St. Valentine's Day." This year, let's do our best to truly honor the Saint behind the feast on February 14th. If you have not yet - be sure to read the brief history of St. Valentine's life in our monastery collection of "Lives of the Saints." Then, in Lady Gwendolyn's "Scrapbook of the Saints" you will find St. Francis de Sales' wise advice for celebrating this Catholic feast day in "A Heavenly Valentine."