Friday, 13 February 2009

St Valentine's Day - The Saint of Love?

February the 14th marks St Valentine's Day and is a celebration of love and affection. Sweethearts mark the day with romance and flowers but was St Valentine the saint of love?

Valentine or Valentinus is derived from the word valens which means worthy and has been a popular name in history, it is also the name of several martyred saints in ancient Rome. Nothing is known about the Valentine whose feast day is February 14th apart from his name and that he was buried at the Via Flamina which was north of Rome.

In the earliest list of Roman martyrs compiled by the Chronographer of 354 the name Valenine isnt there, however the feast of St Valentine was first celebrated in 496 by Pope Geasius I. The Saint Valentine which appears in martyrologies connected to February 14th is described as either priest in Rome, a bishop of Interamna or a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

It has been suggested that Valentine's day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia.Observed 13th to 15th February Lupercalia was an archaic rite connected to fertility. Also that it was invented in the fourteenth century by Chaucer when the feast day became associated with romantic love.

Valentine's Day has evolved through the centuries and we now send cards and other love tokens to our sweethearts even though it has very little to do with St Valentine. I often wonder why it is we need a special day to show our love and to spend huge amounts of money to prove it. If you love your partner, show them everyday in those small ways that mean much, much more than money spent on flowers that will soon die.

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