Stats for February (and a bit of March) 2011

A return to the monthly stats reports, this one includes February and a tiny bit of March, a period which saw 4,154 visits to my blog, a pretty average number. In the top 10, it is striking to note a number of old posts (numbers 6, 8 and 9) as well as a very recent one at number 4. The situation around Bishop Schilder is of interest to many, it would seem.

I have noticed that a growing number of my blog posts tend to discuss hierarchical topics. In other words, the accusation leveled against me from some corners, that I am a bishop worshipper (or, in the words of a commenter here, an episcopolatrist), seems to develop some basis in fact. Of course I don’t worship bishops, but I do acknowledge their important role in the world Church. In many ways, I consider myself inspired by a blog like Whispers in the Loggia which discusses news topics about the hierarchy in the American Church. In my own small and inadequate way, I would like to offer something similar for the Church in northwestern Europe.

Anyway, on to the top 10:

1: A real church, “not one of those multifunctional things” 145
2: Another blogging bishop 80
3: Berlin is vacant, herald of things to come? 72
4: Dutch missionary bishop in the dock, Saint Valentine the Unknown 63
5: The archbishop gets his wish, Saint Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack 56
6: The Stations of the Cross 52
7: Facing a difficult situation with “good humour” – Belgium veruss the archbishop 50
8: Another timely reminder, Het probleem Medjugorje 39
9: A poignant photo 34
10: Anti-life proposals questioned by its ‘target audience’ 31

Saint Valentine the Unknown

Like many holidays and feasts in the west, today – Valentine’s Day – has its roots in the Catholic Church. But in this case the roots are thin and fragile. Extremely little is known about the Saint Valentine who gave his name to today. In fact, he may be any of as few as three or as many as fourteen different Valentines. But the celebration of his unknown exploits and example is not completely without foundation.

The fifth-century Pope Saint Gelasius I established St. Valentine’s feast day, and alleged relics of the saint are to be found in various location in Europe; among them Rome, Dublin, Glasgow, Vienna and Birmingham. Also, starting in the tenth century, churches started to be dedicated to St. Valentine, and at the same time, two late-Roman men, one a priest and the other a bishop, started to be identified with St. Valentine. They are buried in two different locations along the Via Flaminia, which runs from Rome to modern Rimini.

Still, even though there may have been a man name Valentine who was venerated for his holy life, even St. Gelasius I acknowledged that his name was “justly reverenced among men, but [his] acts are known only to God.”

Because of his anonymity, the Church no longer includes Saint Valentine on the calendar of saints, although local celebrations still take place where his alleged relics are kept.

Literary flourishing in the Middle Ages turned the day into a celebration of courtly love, and later into a day to express love in general to whomever one pleases. Geoffrey Chaucer, in his Parlement of Foules from 1382, wrote: For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make. But he may well have been referring to May 2, the feast day of St. Valentine of Genoa, somebody else altogether.

It’s a murky business, trying to figure out who did what when and why we celebrate those things now… But the fact remains: despite rampant commercialisation, today is a day to celebrate the love between people – the greatest Christian virtue.

As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:13)