Being a romance writer, I had to find a way to salute this most romantic of holidays. 🙂 So my Alphabet Post is sort of a history and little known facts about St. Valentine and his holiday.
St. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples—as well as beekeepers, epilepsy, and the plague.
Valentine, from the Roman name “Valentius” meaning worthy, strong, or powerful, was possibly two men who lived in the 3rd century in Rome. One was a temple priest beheaded near Rome in 270 CE. Another account is of the Bishop of Terni, martyred on the outskirts of Rome in the same year. As the accounts are very similar, they could be the same man.
The saint was reputedly martyred for performing marriage ceremonies secretly for young Roman men when the Emperor Claudius had outlawed such marriages, thinking single men made better soldiers. Pope Gelasius, in the 5th century, decreed February 14th as St. Valentine’s day in his honor.
In doing so, he may also have tried to tie a Roman holiday to Christian values. The Roman’s celebrated a very raunchy fertility festival in mid-February called the Lupercalia. By appropriating this festival and declaring it a saint’s feast day, Gelasius may have helped strengthen the Church’s influence.
But St. Valentine’s Day may have been publicized as a lover’s day by the medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer. In 1375, Chaucer wrote a poem entitled “Parliament of Foules” that links courtly love with the saint’s feast day. The reference occurs in the line “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day/Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” The lines suggests that on February 14th, St. Valentine’s feast day, both birds and humans choose their mates. It is after the poem is published that February 14th gains its reputation of being a day to celebrate love.
I hope you enjoyed these little facts about the day given over to lovers. And I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with candy, valentines, and love.
The worst betrayals come from within.
Betrayal is at Amazon