Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Does Valentine's Day Have Pagan Origins?

An English Victorian era Valentine card in the Museum of London

Who is St. Valentine?

Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine the Presbyter of Rome and Valentine the Bishop of Terni. Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Galesius in 496 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. The relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church and Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St. Valentine were transferred to the Church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV. The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, and other portions of his relics can be found throughout the world. Though the Roman Mrtyrology commemorates the two Valentines above on February 14, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates St. Valentine of Rome on July 6, and observes the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Terni, on July 30.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Arrogant Hieromonk Who Thought He Could Command Demons Like Saint Parthenios

Saint Paisios the Athonite told the following beneficial story:

'A demon-possessed person was taken to a monastery, and the abbot there instructed the fathers to go to the chapel and pray for him with their prayer ropes. In that monastery, they also had as a holy relic the head of Saint Parthenios, Bishop of Lampsakos; this had the demon "cornered" quite a bit. At the same time, the abbot assigned the reading of exorcisms to a certain hieromonk. This monk was pious outwardly, but inside he was secretly arrogant. He was a fighter and a stickler in everything he did. He used to counsel the others, because he was also scholarly. He himself however would not receive help from anyone, because out of respect, they would hesitate to tell him whenever they saw him doing something incorrectly. He had created illusions inside himself that he was the most virtuous one in the monastery, so the evil one grabbed the opportunity that day to harm him. The demon implemented its wickedness and made him think that he was driving it out of the demon-possessed person.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Purge and Consecration of the Church of Saint Agatha of the Goths in Rome

What is today known as Sant'Agata dei Goti (Saint Agatha of the Goths) is a church in Rome dedicated to the martyr Saint Agatha. It was built by Ricimer for the Goths c. 460. The Goths were Arians, so when Arianism was suppressed in Rome, the building was taken over by the Church, in 592 or 593, and reconsecrated by Pope Gregory the Great after placing there portions of the relics of Saints Stephen and Agatha. It was restored in the ninth century, and a Benedictine monastery was founded next to it. The apse of the church collapsed in 1589, and it was partially rebuilt in 1633, without major changes to the building itself apart from the new apse. The small courtyard outside the church was laid out at this time. The church has been served by the Stigmatines since 1926. Their generalate is adjacent to it. It is the only Arian church that has been preserved in Rome.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Authority of Saint Tryphon Over Demons

Saint Tryphon was from Lampsakos in Phrygia, and lived during the reigns of emperors Gordian (238-244), Philip (‎244–249) and Decius (249-251). He was most poor in his young age, and was a keeper of geese to earn a living. Although he occupied himself with his humble occupation, at the same time he studied Holy Scripture, and with much zeal performed his religious duties.

Holy Scripture says: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jam. 4:6). Indeed, the humble Tryphon with his pious curiosity slowly became capable not only of knowing much himself, but he also taught. He also received divine grace to heal the sick and the demon possessed. The daughter of Emperor Gordian had long been possessed by a furious demon, which defied being expelled by the pagan magicians. One day it shouted: "Only Tryphon has the power to drive me out!" Gordian sought throughout the Empire for this Tryphon, and he was eventually found to be a seventeen year old boy peacefully tending his flock of geese.