Today in the universal calendar we celebrate the ninth-century monks and missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius, patrons of Europe, who translated the Liturgy into slavonic, allowing for the conversion of untold thousands into the Church. They have always been venerated as the ‘Apostles to the Slavs’, and Pope John Paul II declared them co-patrons of Europe, along with the great Saint Benedict.
Of course, on this day we also celebrate Saint Valentine, a rather obscure 3rd century martyr, who has become the patron saint of lovers and would-be lovers. Many legends have grown up around him, including that he secretly married young couples in prison, and fostered courtships, which I have known priests and others to do, perhaps not with the success of Saint Valentine, bu it is always worth trying…Better to have loved and failed, than never to have loved at all, ’tis not?
So let us today and throughout the coming weeks pray for Europe, which need desperately to find its faith once again, if it is to survive. As Belloc wrote, Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe. Without Catholicism, Europe is just a geographical expression, with a very fragile economic unity, about to be overwhelmed with those who share not her once-cherished beliefs and customs.
And let us also pray for good and holy marriages, with lots of joyful and exuberant Catholic children to give us hope and joy into the succeeding generations. Amor vincit omnia, et cedamus amore!
Saints Cyril, Methodius and Valentine, orate pro nobis!