Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Sweet Lightness of Valentine's Day

When covering the Antigravity beat, you're bound to encounter messiahs, angels, gods, and saints, and this being St. Valentine's Day, I thought it wise to trot out the appropriate figure, with Antigravitational angels in attendance.

This image then, painted by Jacobo Bassano in or around 1575, shows St. Valentine baptizing St. Lucilla:

Admittedly, this is not everyone's idea of a romantic interlude, but let it be noticed that the angels hovering over this scene are extremely cupid-like (see my post of 12/25/08 by clicking here), and though Valentine did not, as near as we can tell, lead a sexually indulgent life before embarking on his career as a model of Christian virtue, his feast day, which the world has adopted as a celebration of earthly love, is said to mark the beginning of mating season for birds.

The latter claim holds some local interest for me, since I heard the mourning doves in my lady love's garden start cooing just two days ago--for the first time this year. Such song would suggest that some billing and other intimate behavior have begun to happen here in the borough of Brooklyn, as they may well have done in your neighborhood as well. At least in the northern hemisphere, the days lengthen, and the building of nests and the flowering of crocuses cannot be far away. So thanks again, St. Valentine: You do make a happy marker on our calendars.

As for St. Lucilla, she seems to have been a fairly run-of-the-mill martyr, which doesn't necessarily mean that her soul ascended to heaven in a run-of-the-mill sort of way. Martyrdom, let us remember, was considered a great blessing during Christianity's early centuries, for it guaranteed eternal life in celestial realms. (Does any of this sound familiar?) To reach back a bit to the mourning doves and the lyrics to a sentimental 19th-century song, Lucilla must have been happy to feel her spirit "pluming for flight."

Farewell gravity, hello heaven. What more could you ask for?

P.S. Sweet greetings to lovers everywhere. Please remember that true love is forever kind and courteous, speaking no word in callousness or wrath.

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