Is there any holiday on the calendar that causes more cynicism than St. Valentine's Day? Single people who don't want to be single feel like they're getting their noses rubbed in their involuntary celibacy. Many couples think it's the invention of Hallmark as a way to sell more merchandise in the lull between New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day, and they're not far off the mark. Ironically, the only people who still commemorate the Christian martyr St. Valentine are Traditionalist Catholics and maybe the Eastern Orthodox. Valentinus was removed from the general Roman calendar when the new Mass debuted in the 1970's.
What was the historical St. Valentine like? We don't know for sure. One popular hagiography describes him as a priest of the third century who was imprisoned for performing Christian weddings under the emperor Claudius II. Claudius ended up liking Valentinus personally, right up until the priest tried to convert him. Another hagiography describes Valentinus as a bishop of Terni. He was brought before a judge who was carrying out Claudius's persecution of the Christians. Valentinus tried to speak to him about Jesus Christ but the judge had another idea. The judge had his blind daughter brought out and told his prisoner that if Jesus restored her sight, he would believe. Valentinus cured her blindness, and the judge and his family were converted. It goes on like the first account until Valentinus is brought before the emperor, who doesn't take a shine to this hardcore alpha male of a pastor.
Gentlemen, if you are single, today is your day. Can't you smell the desperation in the air? Just sign onto Facebook or pay attention to the giggly gossip in your workplace. Ask out the first girl who is complaining about what a joke today is. If she says no or demurs, immediately move on to the next one. Take her out. Order a bottle of fine wine. Tell her a little about the historical St. Valentine. And when you've got her wrapped around your finger with her hanging on your every word, she'll look at you with those bedroom eyes and ask, "So what happened with Valentine and the emperor?"
And you will respond with aplomb, "Ya, he was a great saint and awesome evangelist. Then they beat him with clubs, stoned him, and cut off his head. More wine?"