“Stay, little Valentine. Stay.” – Lorenz Hart

February 15, 2009

I probably should have known this already, but when I opened the Daily Office this morning I learned that today is dedicated on the church calendar to Saints Cyril and Methodius, brothers who spread Christianity in the Slavic countries in the ninth century. No chocolate hearts involved, as far as I can tell. St. Valentine, it seems, was dropped from the calendar in an update that occurred in 1969. He was removed because his history is vague. In fact, there was more than one Valentine – or Valens – in the early history of the church, and the whole affair was too indistinct to justify the observance. Those Valentines, apparently were all real, but there was nothing romantic in what little is known of their histories. Some writers have claimed that Geoffrey Chaucer, in his “Parlement of Foules” made the first reference to “Valentine’s Day,” but I gather that has been  pretty much debunked. Too bad. It might have compensated a little for Chaucer’s role in torturing generations of English students. I gather from what I saw at the mall yesterday that the rededication of this day has had no impact on Hallmark or Russell Stover.

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