Saint of the day:
Saint Valentina & Saint Thea
“Valentina” means “strong, vigorous and healthy.”
“Thea” may be short for “Theodora,” which means “Gift of God.” However, this saint is also known as “Ennatha.”
Saints Valentina & Thea's Story
Saint Valentina was from Caesarea of Palestine. She was small and known for wearing old, worn out clothing.
One day, when she was with her friend Thea, they joined a group of Christians gathered to hear the Holy Scriptures. Local officials broke up the meeting, grabbed Thea and tortured her.
Valentina yelled, “How long will you torment my sister?” When the thugs heard her, they grabbed her, too. Valentina was dragged away to be burned on an altar which had already been prepared by the heathens. Kicking the altar with her feet, she knocked it over. Then, Valentina and Thea were tied together and burnt alive.
Saint Valentina’s Christian bond with Saint Thea was so strong that whether or not they were natural sisters, they were spiritual sisters. And, Saint Valentina was not going to let Saint Thea be martyred without her.
The women died for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 308.
The ancient Latin name “Valentina” means “strong, vigorous and healthy.”
We honor these Holy Virgin Martyrs on February 10 and July 18.
Holy Martyr Valentina, pray that our faith, and our determination to persevere in purity, always be strong and vigorous. Amen.
SS. Thea and Valentina, Virgins, and St. Paul, Martyrs
IN the year 308 there were at the same time six emperors, successors of Dioclesian, namely in the East Galerius, Licinius, and Maximinus; in the West Constantine, Maxentius, and his father, Maximian Herculeus, who had reassumed the purple. Firmillian, the successor of Urbanus in the government of Palestine, under Maximinus II., carried on the persecution with great cruelty. When fourscore and seventeen confessors, men, women, and children, out of an innumerable multitude of Christians who were banished a long while before to the porphyry quarries in Thebais, were brought before him, he commanded the sinews of the joint of their left feet to be burnt with a hot iron; and their right eyes to be put out, and the eye-holes burnt with a hot iron to the very bottom of the orb. In this condition he sent them to work at the mines in Palestine about mount Libanus. Many others were brought before this inhuman judge from different towns of Palestine, and were tormented in various ways.
Among the Christians taken at Gaza, whilst they were assembled to hear the holy scriptures read, was a holy virgin named Thea, whom the judge threatened with the prostitution of her chastity in the public stews. She, to whom her virtue was most dear, reproached him for such infamous injustices. Firmilian, enraged at her liberty of speech, caused her to be inhumanly scourged, then stretched on the rack, and her sides torn with iron hooks till the bare ribs appeared. Valentina, a pious Christian virgin of Cæsarea, who had also by vow consecrated her chastity to God, being present at this spectacle, cried out to the judge from the midst of the crowd: “How long will you thus torment my sister?” She was immediately apprehended, and being dragged by force to the altar, she threw herself upon it, and overturned it with her feet, together with the fire and sacrifice which stood ready upon it. Firmilian, provoked beyond bounds, commanded her sides to be more cruelly torn than any others. Being at length wearied with tormenting her, he ordered the two virgins to be tied together and burnt. This was executed on the 25th of July, 308. One Paul, an illustrious confessor, was beheaded for the faith on the same day, by an order of this judge. The fervour with which he prayed at the place of execution for the emperor, the judge who condemned him, and his executioner, drew tears from all that were present. Soon after one hundred and thirty Egyptian confessors, by an order of Maximinus, had one eye pulled out, and one foot maimed, and were sent, some to the mines in Palestine, others to those in Cilicia. See Eusebius de Martyr. Palestinæ, c. 8. Tillemont, t. 5. Fleury, l. ix. Orsi, t. 4.
Church of the Nativity
Qatayef are stuffed Arabic pancakes, fried to perfection then dunked in simple syrup. Crunchy, sweet and so satisfying.
2 cups (240 g) all purpose flour.
1 tsp (3g) dry yeast.
1 Tablespoon (14g) sugar.
1/2 teaspoon (1g) baking powder.
1 Tablespoon (6g) dry powdered milk.
A pinch of salt.
1 3/4 (420 mL) cups of warm water.
Oil for deep frying.
Thick simple syrup:
2 cups (400 g) sugar.
1 (240 mL) cup water.
1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
1 tsp lemon juice.
A dash of vanilla powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Filling: nut mixture of your choice used about two cups mixed nuts and raisins.
Make the syrup:
In a sauce pan over medium heat, add syrup ingredients, stir a little then let it boil.
When it boils, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Turn heat off and let it cool down to room temperature, it will thicken as it cools down.
Make the batter:
In a deep bowl, combine first 6 ingredients, add water and mix well. (Note1)
Cover and let it set for 30 minutes.
Stir the batter a bit to check consistency if it is too thick then add a tablespoon of water. Batter should be thinner than pancake and not lumpy. (Note2)
Cook the pancakes:
Heat a griddle or a pan and scoop about 2 Tablespoons of the batter.
The batter will bubble at the surface and cooks, do not flip
When the surface is longer wet remove and it is golden brown, remove from heat. (Note3)
Arrange qatayef bubble side up on a baking sheet and cover with a towel. Set aside until you are finished with the rest of the batter.
Continue until you finish all the batter.
Fill the pancakes:
Hold the pancakes bubble side up, fill with little over a teaspoon of the nut mixture. Do not overfill as it will not close or tear and crack.
Fold pancakes in half and pinch the sides to firmly close. (Note4).
Frying the pancakes:
Heat oil for deep frying over medium heat.
For a crispy golden qatayef, fry for like 3 minutes on each side until they are dark golden brown. If you want a softer qatayef, fry them until they are just light golden brown.
Take them out of oil place on a paper towel for 5-15 seconds then quickly dip them in the cooled syrup while they are still hot. Toss to cover with syrup.
Take qatayef out and let them drip in a colander. The more you leave qatayef in the syrup, the more syrup it will soak and then it will become softer.
Note1: a recent tip from mom is to make this in your blender and this worked like a charm much better than a whisk.
Note2: most probably you'll need to add from 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoon of warm water to the batter to make it thinner. I've tried with many flour brands and it always end this way.
Note3: It is somehow hard when you first make Qatayef to figure out the right temperature for you. Too hot and it will be burnt, too low it will be pale and takes forever to cook. Over the years my observation is go for the range from 285F to 320F. I had t experiment with a couple before I figured out the right temperature. Mine was a notch less than 300F something like 295F.
Note4: You can at this point freeze stuffed pancakes on a parchment lined baking sheet for a couple of hours then place them in a ziplock and keep in the freezer. Fry directly from frozen, there is no need to thaw. This makes Qatayef a very convenient make ahead dessert. It keeps for about 6 weeks in the freezer.