Saint of the Day – 7January – St Valentine of Passau (Died 475) Bishop in Passau in the Rhaetia region, Switzerland, an area in the border region of modern Italy, Austria and Switzerland, Monk, Abbot, Missionary, Hermit, Miracle-worker. Died on 7 January 475 at Mais, Tyrol, Austria of natural causes. Patronages – against convulsions, against cramps/stomach pain, against epilepsy, against gout, against plague/epidemics, against demonic possession, of cattle diseases, of pilgrims, poor people, City and Diocese of Passau. Also known as • Valentine of Mais • Valentine of Raetia • Valentine of Ratien • Valentine of Retie • Valentine of Rezia • Valentine of Rhaetia • Valentine of Rhétie • Valentin, Valentinus. Additional Memorial – 4 August (translation of relics), 29 October a combined Feast with the other Patrons of Passau, St Stephen, the Protomartyr and St Maximillian Martyr Bishop of Passau for 20 years, who died in c 284 (Feast day 12 October)..
According to tradition, Valentine came to Passau around 430; there the construction of the first Church on the site of today’s Cathedral is attributed to him.
Valentine had been sent by the Pope to preach the Gospel in the Passau. He found that his work was without fruit and returned to Rome to implore the Holy Father to send him elsewhere. But the Pope Consecrated him Bishop and sent him back to Passau, to preach in season and out of season, whether it produced fruit or not.
The Bishop renewed his efforts but the pagans and Arians combined to drive him out of the City. Thereupon, he went into the Rhætian Alps and his teaching produced abundant fruit in the region. His Vita states, St Valentine was “teaching the word of God and doing great good, such that he was able to expel demons from the obsessed and cure those who were sick of all sorts of diseases.”
At length he resolved to serve God and purify his own soul, in a life of retirement. He, therefore, built a little Chapel and Monastery at Mais, in Tyrol and there he died. His Relics are enshrined at Passau.
A Monk who died in 482 wrote a Vita of the Bishop of Raetia. St Venantius Fortunatus knew of a Church dedicated to Saint Valentine in the Upper Inn Valley and another, probably on the Brenner Pass in the Alps.
Around 1200, on the occasion of the discovery of his grave in the forecourt of Passau Cathedral, a life story was written by an Cathedral Chaplain – who said that Valentin worked in the area around Passau but was unsuccessful because of the wildness of the residents and finally retreated to the Alps after abuse and expulsion.
Below is a Painting by Franz de Neve “The Cures Wrought by Saint Valentine and the Beheading of St Maximilian” (after 1689) which resides in the Cathedral of St Stephen, Passau.
In the foreground, St Valentine cures the sick. The beheading of St Maximilian is barely visible in the left edge of the background.