Like Valentine, patron saint of beekeeping, Christians have a duty to love and learn from the earth God made.
As a lifelong Protestant, only recently have I begun to discover the delightful array of patron saints within the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. (And as my Episcopal friends would remind me, they have them too.)
There’s one for angina sufferers (Swithbert), flight attendants (Bona of Pisa), and embroiderers (Clare). There is a patron saint for those who survive an earthquake (Gregory the Wonderworker) and one for those who’ve misplaced items (Anthony). When I lost my voice for weeks on end last summer, I didn’t pray to Bernardine of Siena, but I did feel a real kinship with him—and a comfort in knowing that the church considered, named, and prayed for my plight.
My evangelical upbringing taught me a thorough knowledge of the Bible, but it was weak on Christian history and tradition. It was rare we spoke of anyone from the 2,000 or so years between the apostle Paul and Billy Graham.
At Wheaton College, I was introduced to Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Hildegard of Bingen—saints of the Catholic church, all. When I expressed concern, wondering why we were studying their teachings at an evangelical institution, a kindly professor quipped, “Courtney, before the Protestant Reformation, basically all Christians were Catholic or Orthodox.” Mic drop.
And so, on the cusp of Valentine’s Day, let us turn our attention to the spiritual wisdom to be gleaned from the saint whose name carries the day. A clergyman and physician in the third-century Roman empire, Valentine is the patron saint of courtly love, epilepsy sufferers—and beekeepers.
No one is certain when humans first decided to keep bees, cultivating hives rather than simply harvesting wild honey, but art depicting beekeeping …