Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ave's, St. Valentine, and Penny Dreadfuls

Here's a curious thing I noticed. I start every class I teach with a prayer. (I don't know how common this is in the school). Now the school is around 50% Catholic (I have heard numbers ranging from 45% to 65%). More often than not we begin with the Our Father. (Early in the year I experimented with doing a different Psalm every week-but inevitably the students would misplace the sheet I printed out for them with the Psalm printed on it.) Recently I have been starting class with a Hail Mary. Now for the curious thing: it seems more students pray-or pray louder when we begin with the Ave than when we begin with the Pater. I would have thought the opposite, based on the demographics mentioned above. Hmmm....

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From The Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Valentine


At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury's time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known. Read the rest here .

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Finally, a short excerpt from "Giving Up Stealing for Lent" in keeping with the day:

Mom was strict, but she also had a really good sense of humor. My oldest sister, Grace, remembers how when she was small she and Mom used to go out late on the night before Valentine’s Day and slip valentines in all of the neighbors’ mail slots. They weren’t the mushy kind, but lampooning ones called "Penny Dreadfuls"—they cost a penny each and were simply dreadful!


It was a tradition in Mom’s family as long as she could remember. Grandma Manning, Mom, and her older sisters Mary and Jenny would sit down with a batch of these things and figure out which one fit which neighbor best, signing a neighbor’s name to each one. Late that night when the streets were deserted, they would then make their deliveries-always seeing to it, of course, that they received a valentine too, just in case anyone asked.


This was a risky venture in those staid times of the first decades of the 20th century, and Grandpa never knew about it. It was just as well. His job required good public relations, as he was Deputy Marshal of the Police Department in Baltimore City, the equivalent to a Deputy Police Commissioner today. Because of the politics of the time, there would have been considerable uproar if Grandma’s annual prank had ever been exposed!

1 comment:

K for Kid said...

K for Kid says you're awesome! Huzzah!