Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
Not Just for
Did you know that St. Valentine is not only the patron saint of lovers, but also the patron saint of epilepsy?
The ancient Egyptians, Hindus, Aztecs and Incas, considered it an affliction linked to the gods. Though there was never a rationale behind why some were affected by it, the disorder was long perceived as supernatural. Christianity maintained this perception and there are several references to epilepsy in the New Testament.
Medicine and religion have long been intertwined; however, medical practitioners were sometimes regarded skeptically in medieval times causing people to seek spiritual intervention for their illnesses. Because many people believed their symptoms were the work of dark spiritual forces, it made sense for them to combat their perceived tormenters with an antidote to evil in the form of saints—in particular patron saints—who were believed to have restorative abilities for specific ailments.
But how does Saint Valentine fit in? For one thing, there is a phonetic similarity in the German language between the words ‘fallen’ (fall) and Valentine, and this led to epilepsy as being referred to as the ‘Saint Valentine’s illness.’
Stories about his cures would have spread far and wide, thus enhancing his reputation and increasing the number of those appealing to him for help with epilepsy. It was thought by some that Valentinus himself may have had suffered from epilepsy.
In this way, he became the epilepsy’s patron saint.
The good news is, medical research and an increasing variety of scientifically proven therapies have improved the lives of many people living with epilepsy, significantly diminishing the need to turn to supernatural forces for respite!
Is this great world ever in desperate need of love! Was it really 50 years ago that Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned “What the World Needs Now (is love sweet love)” immortalized by Jackie de Shannon? The sentiment remains truer today than ever. There is still far too much conflict amongst us, and the need for love is greater than ever.
So, in the wake of this Valentine’s Day, when all the sugar-coated, floral-scented hype has passed, remember that Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers. Today, medical research, an increasing variety of scientifically proven therapies, and programs and events offered by the BC Epilepsy Society are helping to raise awareness and help people with epilepsy live to their fullest potential.
An Italian stamp of 1988 shows a pictorial representation of an EEG and St. Valentine. St. Valentine was the first bishop of Temi in Umbria. Some of the mythology is not entirely clear, but St. Valentine was probably a physician who was martyred by the Romans on February 14, 273. He is patron saint of both lovers and epilepsy. There are also other patron saints of epilepsy. Legend has it that St. Valentine miraculously cured a young fiancée, Serapia, afflicted with a mysterious illness, thought now to be epilepsy. Sites where St. Valentine was thought to have lived or visited became pilgrimage destinations for cure of the disorder. These destinations included Rome and Temi in Italy, Ruffach in France (where a hospital for epilepsy was later built), Poppel in Belgium, and Passau in Germany. Soon after Valentine’s death young lovers started making pilgrimages to Temi to be blessed by the Bishop on the 14th hour of every month for eternal love.