[After Jesus' birth in Bethlehem of Judea during the reign of King Herod, astrologers from the east arrived one day in Jerusalem inquiring, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage."
At this news King Herod became greatly disturbed, and with him all Jerusalem. Summoning all of the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. "In Bethlehem of Judea," they informed him. "Here is what the prophet has written:
"And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah, since from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Herod called the astrologers aside and found out from them the exact time of the star's appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after having instructed them: "Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report your findings to me so that I may go and offer him homage too."
After their audience with the king, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house, found the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their coffers and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
They received a message in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their own country by another route. (Mt 2:1-12)]
VALENTINE'S DAY HISTORY
There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine". Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour St. Valentine.
Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball.
In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialised. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. The spirit of good continues as valentines are sent out with sentimental verses and children exchange valentine cards at school.
THE HISTORY OF SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270. At that time it was the custom in Rome, a very ancient custom, indeed, to celebrate in the month of February the Lupercalia, feasts in honour of a heathen god. On these occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed.
The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feaSt. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose in this way.
ST. VALENTINE'S STORY
Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn't like Emperor Claudius, and I wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.
Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I thought it was preposterous! I certainly wasn't going to support that law!
Did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.
One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment was death.
I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love.
One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from your Valentine."
I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day I died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love can't be beaten!
From Catholic Encyclopedia
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith in effectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to he memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, in the calendar of F. Fronto and that of Allatius, in Bede, Usuard, Ado, Notker and all other martyrologies on this day. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.
The Origin of St. Valentine
The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].
Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."
St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.
Paul of Tarsus, also called Paul the Apostle, the Apostle Paul, or Saint Paul, (c.5 BC - c.67 AD), was a Hellenistic Jew who called himself the "Apostle to the Gentiles" and was, together with Saint Peter and James the Just, the most notable of early Christian missionaries.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion took place on the road to Damascus. Thirteen epistles in the New Testament are attributed to Paul, though authorship of six of the thirteen has been questioned by scholars. Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than that of any other New Testament author.
Sources of information
Conversion of Saint Paul, fresco by Michelangelo
The Book of Acts contains an account of Paul's travels and deeds, his conflicts with pagans and Jews, and his interactions with the other apostles. It was written from a perspective of reconciliation between Pauline Christians and their opponents, and portrays Paul as a law-abiding Jewish Christian and omits his dispute with Peter. A primary source for historical information about Paul's life is the material found in his seven letters. However, these letters contain comparatively little information about Paul's past. It is worth noting that Acts leaves several parts of Paul's life out of its narrative, such as his execution in Rome.
Scholars such as Hans Conzelmann and 20th century theologian John Knox (not the 16th century John Knox) dispute the historical reliability of Acts. Paul's own account of his background is found particularly in Galatians. According to some scholars, the account in Acts of Paul visiting Jerusalem[Acts 11:27-30] contradicts the account in Paul's letters. (Please see the full discussion in Acts of the Apostles). Most scholars[who?] consider Paul's accounts more reliable than those found in Acts.
Prior to conversion
Paul, whose earlier Hebrew name was Saul, was "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.[Phil. 3:5] Acts identifies Paul as from Mediterranean city of Tarsus (in present-day south-central Turkey), well-known for its intellectual environment. Acts also claims Paul said he was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee".[Acts 23:6]
According to his own testimony, Paul violently persecuted the church of God (followers of Jesus) prior to his conversion to Christianity. and was advancing in stature within Judaism's Jerusalem temple leadership before he came to believe that the crucified Jesus, of the line of David, was actually Lord. [Rom. 1:3] Paul's writings give some insight into his thinking regarding his former place in Judaism. He is strongly critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority [2:16-26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9-11] His aggressive and authoritative writing style, even when addressing the supposed "super-apostles", [1 Cor. 11] some of whom certainly had stronger claims, having known Jesus during his lifetime, suggests that Paul's stature in Judaism and the temple leadership must have been quite high.
Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by a personal revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:1116] Paul claimed independence from the "mother church" in Jerusalem (possibly in the Cenacle), but was just as quick to claim agreement with it on the nature and content of the gospel.[Gal. 1:22-24]
Conversion and mission
Geography relevant to Paul's life, stretching from Jerusalem to Rome.
Paul's conversion can be dated to AD 33 - AD 36 by his reference to it in one of his letters. According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion (or metanoia) took place on the road to Damascus, where he experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus after which he was temporarily blinded.[Acts 9:1-31] [26:9-24] This event is the source of the phrase Pauline conversion.
Following his stay in Damascus after his conversion, where Acts states he was healed of his blindness and baptized by Ananias of Damascus, Paul says that he first went to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[Gal. 1:17] He describes in Galatians how three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem. There he met James and stayed with Simon Peter for 15 days.[Gal. 1:1324]
The house believed to be of St. Ananias in Damascus
Bab Kisan, believed to be where St. Paul escaped from persecution in Damascus
There is no explicit written record that Paul had known Jesus personally prior to the Crucifixion. Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:1112] Paul claimed almost total independence from the "mother church" in Jerusalem.
Paul's belief in Jesus as Lord dramatically changed the course of his life and through his activity and writings eventually changing religious thought in the Mediterranean. This leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by gentile groups that adhered to the Judaic "moral code" but relaxed or abandoned the "ritual" obligations of the Mosaic law on the basis of the life and works of Jesus Christ. These communities eventually formed Christianity, see also Biblical law in Christianity.
Paul's narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem.[Gal. 2:110] It is not completely known what happened during these so-called "unknown years," but both Acts and Galatians provide some partial details. At the end of this time, Barnabas went to find Paul and brought him back to Antioch. [Acts 11:26]
When a famine occurred in Judea, around 4546, Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community. According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative centre for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians."[Acts 11:26]
First missionary journey
Luke,the writer of the Acts (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1), arranges Paul's travels into three separate journeys. The first journey, (Acts ch. 13, ch. 14) led initially by Barnabas, takes Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and back to Antioch. On Cyprus, Paul rebukes Elymas the magician (Acts 13:8-12) who was criticizing their teachings. From this point on, Paul is described as the leader of the group. Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul's evangelizing.
Council of Jerusalem
Icon of James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19-29, c. 50 AD.
Most scholars agree that a vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place in AD 49 or 50, described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1. The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised. At this meeting, Peter, James, and John accepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles. See also Circumcision controversy in early Christianity.
Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, in Paul's letters, and some appear in both. For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief[Acts 11:2730] apparently corresponds to the "first visit" (to Cephas and James only).[Gal. 1:1820] F. F. Bruce suggested that the "fourteen years" could be from Paul's conversion rather than the first visit to Jerusalem.
Incident at Antioch
Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem as understood by Paul, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter, also called the "Incident at Antioch" over his reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch.
Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts: "I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong". Paul reports that he told Peter: "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"[Gal. 2:1114] Paul also mentions that even Barnabas (his traveling companion and fellow apostle until that time) sided with Peter.
The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "St. Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that St. Peter saw the justice of the rebuke." In contrast, L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity claims: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return."
The primary source for the Incident at Antioch is Paul's letter to the Galatians.
Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles
This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity. Note that the matching of Paul's travels in the Acts and the travels in his Epistles is done for the reader's convenience and is not approved of by all scholars.
First visit to Jerusalem[Acts 9:2627]
o "after many days" of Damascus conversion
o preaches openly in Jerusalem with Barnabas
o meets apostles First visit to Jerusalem[Gal. 1:1820]
o three years after Damascus conversion[Gal. 1:1718]
o sees only Cephas (Peter) and James
Second visit to Jerusalem[Acts 11:2930],[Acts 12:25]
o for famine relief Apparently unmentioned.
Third visit to Jerusalem[Acts 15:119]
o with Barnabas
o "Council of Jerusalem"
o followed by confrontation with Barnabas in Antioch[Acts 15:3640]
Another visit to Jerusalem[Gal. 2:110]
o 14 years later (after Damascus conversion?)
o with Barnabas and Titus
o possibly the "Council of Jerusalem"
o Paul agrees to "remember the poor"
o followed by confrontation with Peter and Barnabas in Antioch[Gal. 2:1114]
Fourth visit to Jerusalem[Acts 18:2122]
o to "greet the church" Apparently unmentioned.
Fifth visit to Jerusalem[Acts 21:17ff]
o after an absence of several years[Acts 24:17]
o to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings
o Paul arrested Another visit to Jerusalem
o to deliver the collection for the poor
Around AD 50-52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. The reference in Acts to proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date. Here he worked with Silas and Timothy.
After Corinth, the next major center for Paul's activities was Ephesus. Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity from the AD 50s, see also Early Christianity#Western Anatolia. From AD 52 to AD 54, Paul lived here, working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands. Paul's time here was marked by disturbances and possibly imprisonment. Finally, he was forced to leave.
Next, he traveled to Macedonia and Illyria before going probably to Corinth for three months (AD 56-57) before his final visit to Jerusalem.
Arrest and death
Saint Paul's beheading. Painting by Enrique Simonet in 1887
Paul arrived in Jerusalem AD 57 with a collection of money for the congregation there. Acts reports that the church welcomed Paul gladly, but it was apparently a proposal of James that led to his arrest. Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by being taken into custody. He was held as a prisoner for two years in Caesarea until, in AD 59, a new governor reopened his case. He appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen and was sent to Rome for trial. Acts reports that he was shipwrecked on Malta where he was met by St Publius[Acts 28:7] and the islanders, who showed him "unusual kindness".[Acts 28:1] He arrived in Rome c AD 60 and spent two years under house arrest.
Irenaeus of Lyons believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop. Though not considered a bishop of Rome, Paul is considered highly responsible for bringing Christianity to Rome.
The Bible does not tell us how or when the apostle Paul died, and history does not provide us with any information. The only thing we have to go on is Christian tradition, which has Paul being beheaded in Rome, around the mid-60s AD, during the reign of Nero at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey). By comparison, tradition has Peter being crucified upside-down. Paul's Roman citizenship accorded him the more merciful death by beheading.
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