St. Valentine’s relics were reportedly uncovered during an excavation in Rome in the early 1800s, though it is unclear exactly how his skull came to lie in the Byzantine church where it is found today.
In 1964, Pope Paul VI gave Santa Maria in Cosmedin to the care of the patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which is part of the Byzantine Rite.
The basilica became the seat of the Melkite Greek Church’s representative to the pope, a role now held by Abboud, who offers the Divine Liturgy for the community every Sunday.
After the Divine Liturgy, said in Italian, Greek, and Arabic, Abboud likes to pray in front of St. Valentine’s relics.
The priest recalled a story about St. Valentine, which says that when the saint was in prison, the guard in charge asked him to pray for the healing of his daughter, who was blind. With Valentine’s prayers, the daughter regained her sight.
“We say that love is blind -- no! Love sees and sees well,” Abboud said. “It does not see as we want to see, because when one is attracted to another person he sees something no one else is able to see.”
Abboud asked people to pray for the strengthening of the sacrament of marriage in society.
“We ask [St. Valentine’s] intercession, that we can really live moments of love, of being in love, and to live our faith and the sacraments, and live truly with a deep and strong faith,” he said.
This article was originally published on CNA on Feb. 14, 2021