In Celebration of Saint Valentine

 In today’s society Valentine’s Day is a holiday that either brings heart swelling joy or feelings of dread and anxiety depending on your current relationship status. Many people honestly believe that the holiday was made up by greeting card manufacturers, florists, and confectioners in order to boost sales during a short month. Without too much trouble investigating the origin one quickly discovers the original intent of Valentine’s Day is marked in celebration of Christian martyr Saint Valentine. Not much is known about the actual man behind the holiday outside of  his name was Valentinus, he was the Bishop of Interamna (Terni) Narnia, and Amelia a town in Umbria located in central Italy.

Valentinus, is said to have lived in the time of Claudius Caesar, Emperor of Rome in the second century A.D. Claudius had ordered the entire Roman empire to worship none but the twelve pagan gods, and it was a capital crime to practice Christianity or associate with Christians. Valentinus would not deny his faith and he was arrested.

 The Judge who had Valentinus imprisoned was named Asterius. Judge Asterius grew fond of Valentinus as a learned man and an intellectual and they soon discussed the validity of Jesus. Asterius was persuaded to put Valentinus’ faith to the test. The Judge had an adopted daughter who was blind and he told Valentinus if he could perform a miracle and restore the sight of his daughter, he would convert to Christianity and set him free. The child was brought forth and Valentinus layed his hands upon her eyes and the child’s vision was restored. Judge Asterius then freed not only Valentinus but all the captive Christians and had his entire household of forty-four (family and slaves) baptized as Christians.

 

Sometime later Valentinus was arrested again and sent to Rome to stand before the emperor himself. Valentinus then tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity. Claudius refused and commanded that Valentinus either renounce Jesus and give up his faith, or be put to death. Valentinus would not and was then beaten with clubs, stoned, and beheaded on February 14th, in the year 269 outside the Flaminian Gate, later named Porta Valentini (The Gate of Valentine). His relics were buried in what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome.

Legend has it on the evening prior to his execution, Valentinus had written a letter to Judge Asterius’ daughter who could now see to read committing her to Christ and signed it "Your Valentine".  In return, She herself is said to have planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his resting place. Today the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship, and the valentine remains a token of affection, love, and devotion.

The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Translation "For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."

 

I’m not a hundred percent certain but I don’t think Hallmark and Hershey’s were around in 1382, much less 269. Feel free to write a love note to someone you cherish and do so in celebration of Saint Valentine.