As a high school student in the 1950s, Brother Simon decided to make his mom a special Valentine, with lace, beads and an inscribed poem. She loved it so much, he made it an annual tradition that continued even after he joined the Holy Land Friars and came to live at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, in his hometown of Washington, DC.
In 1962, Brother Simon’s valentines became even more ornate after he read about the fancy Victorian-era “Box Valentine” cards, which often were designed in a box for a 3-D effect.
They inspired Brother Simon to design his own three-dimensional cards. Some even included handmade moving parts. One featured the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. Pull a string in the card and Romeo climbs up the balcony to the waiting Juliet.
Fortunately, Brother Simon’s mom kept these special cards and, every February for the past nine years, 20 of Brother Simon’s valentines to mom have been displayed in the Visitor Center of the Franciscan Monastery for all to enjoy.
On display, February 1-28, 2017, 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America Visitor Center, 1400 Quincy St. NE, Washington, DC 20017