I wrote a new Cracked column on how even the basics of Valentine’s Day are a myth, just like the love that your ex said they held for you. You will enjoy it–or else I will stop loving you.
Here’s your customary apocrypha, self-culled because it was too divergent from the main topic:
Here’s the thing with saints – they’re basically tiki idols with shinier heads. Since Christianity is monotheistic, it doesn’t have sub-deities like Cupid to worship. “But hey,” says the Catholic Church, “no harm in asking the dead to pray on your behalf, just like you would the living.” Although this does suggest that God pro-rates prayers based on how good a person you are.
IMAGE: God “Don’t tell me what to do. There, now he’s a pillar of salt. Are you happy?”
CAPTION: In fairness, most Americans are 40% salt already.
Many Protestant forms of Christianity consider this a form of idolatry, and I invite you to bicker about it in the comments below while the atheists mock you both and all three groups celebrate Valentine’s in spite of yourselves. Anyway, even though the Catholic Church has an elaborate process for confirming saints now, that wasn’t always the case. Historically, you were a saint if people could say for certain you were in Heaven – usually martyrs or Ted Williams, because that guy paid for children’s cancer treatments in secret. He’s in Heaven even if God is a Yankee fan.
Saints were beatified at a local level, at first informally through prayer and memorials and miracles. It all got a little—eh, I don’t want to say culty, so I’ll let the Encyclopedia Brittanica do that. relics People who collect other people’s body parts to obtain their power are creepy, no matter how friendly they are. Local bishops eventually took authority of canonizing the deceased’s saintly status, probably because regulation beats prohibition.
It took an entire millennium–half the extant Church’s life—before a pope started namedropping saints. By that point, saints’ roles diversified. Some protect their hometown (St. Januarius – patron saint of Naples) or their industry (St. Brendan — patron saint of sailors), or just whatever they’re best known for (St. Christopher — patron saint of people who transport children across borders). You get the idea. (If I got any of that wrong, I’m only reading from my Catholic high school notes. Our theology program was run by two priests who didn’t want to be there and a woman so pure her soul could distill water, but she believed Adam & Eve were real people. We got so many mixed messages there.)