medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (14. February) is the feast day of:

Valentine of Terni (d. c. 268)  The most probable account of Valentine is
that he was bishop of Terni in central Italy, and was martyred there in c.
268.  Although no specifics are known of his martyrdom, his cult developed
early in the area of Terni as well as Rome.  There may have been a second
Valentine celebrated on this day, a Roman priest martyred on the Flaminian
Way under Claudius.  Neither has a connection with lovers; "St. Valentine's
Day" became a romantic holiday because of the belief that the birds mate on
14. February---a belief that goes back at least to the 14th century.  Some
authorities, however, believe that the association of lovers with this day
goes back to the Roman Lupercalia of mid-February.

Maron of Syria (d. c. 410/430)  The Maronite Church takes its name from
Maron.  He was a monk,  friend of John Chrystostom.  Maron lived as a
hermit near Apamea (Syria) on the bank of the Orontes.  After his death,
his disciples founded the monastery of St. Maron on the site of his
hermitage and grave.  The monastery then gave its name to a majority of
Syrian Christians.

Abraham of Harran (d. c. 422)  Abraham was a Syrian hermit.  He is credited
with converting a village in Lebanon by borrowing the money to pay the
villagers' taxes (thus winning their good will, he spent three years
instructing them in Christianity).  Abraham later became bishop of Harran
in Mesopotamia.

Auxentios (d. 473)  Auxentios was a soldier, then became a hermit on a
mountain near Chalcedon (Asia Minor).  He became a model of piety and
asceticism, and his hermitage became a center of monastic life.

Cyril and Methodius (d. 869 and 885) (feast formerly celebrated on 7. July)
Cyril and Methodius were brothers from Thessalonike.  In 862 Emperor
Michael III sent them as missionaries to Moravia, after the ruler there had
asked for priests who could speak Slavic.  Their mission enjoyed
considerable success, not least because they created a Slavic alphabet and
translated the Bible and liturgy into Slavic.  Caught up in
German-Byzantine political manoeuvers for control of Moravia,  C & M went
to Rome and won papal approval.  Cyril died in Rome on this day in 869, but
Methodius was named archbishop of Pannonia and Moravia.  He returned to the
mission field, only to be captured and imprisoned for 2-1/2 years by the
bishop of Salzburg, who thought Methodius was poaching on his territory.
The pope finally won his release, and M. returned to his mission work.  In
1981 John Paul II named C & M joint patrons of Europe, along with Benedict
of Nursia.  They have also been official patrons of all the Slavic peoples
since 1863.

Dr. Phyllis G. Jestice
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