The Legend of Saint Valentine
Thursday January 31, 2013
St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D, a time when the church was enduring great persecution. His ministry was to help the Christians to escape this persecution, and to provide them the sacraments, such as marriage, which was outlawed by the Roman Empire at that time." Contemporary records of Saint Valentine were most probably destroyed during the Diocletianic Persecution on early 4th century. In the 5th or 6th century, a work calledPassio Marii et Marthaepublished an invented story of martyrdom for Saint Valentine of Rome, probably by borrowing tortures that happened to other saints, as it was usually made in the literature of that period. It states that St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Persecuted and sentenced to death in Rome, the Saint was martyred on the 14th February, along the Via Flaminia, and buried very quickly to prevent riots by the Christians.
The legend tells that three of his disciples managed to find the body and transfer it to Terni to bury the Saint in a sacred place.
Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. The jailer's daughter and his forty-four member household (family members and servants) came to believe in Jesus and were baptized. In addition to this, Saint Valentine is said to have performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. The Roman Emperor Claudius II supposedly forbade this in order to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. According to legend, in order to "remind them of God's love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians," Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on Saint Valentine's Day.
There is an additional embellishment toThe Golden Legend, which according to Henry Ansgar Kelly, was added centuries later, and widely repeated. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he would have written the first "valentine" card himself, addressed to the daughter of his jailer Asterius, who was no longer blind, signing as "Your Valentine." This expression "From your Valentine" is still used to this day.John Foxe, an English historian stated that Saint Valentine was buried in the Church of Praxedes in Rome, located near the cemetery of St Hippolytus. This order says that according to legend, "Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship."
There is no evidence of any link between Saint Valentine's Day and the rites of the ancient Roman festival, despite many claims by many authors.The celebration of Saint Valentine did not have any romantic connotations until Chaucer's poetry about "Valentines" in the 14th century.
Popular modern sources claim links to unspecified Greco-Roman February holidays alleged to be devoted to fertility and love to St. Valentine's Day, but prior to Chaucer in the 14th century, there were no links between the Saints named Valentinus and romantic love. Earlier links as described above were focused on sacrificerather than romantic love. In the ancient Athenian calendar the period between mid-January and mid-February was the month of Gamelion, dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.
In Ancient Rome, Lupercalia, observed February 13-15, was an archaic rite connected to fertility. Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome. The more general Festival of Juno Februa, meaning "Juno the purifier "or "the chaste Juno", was celebrated on February 13-14. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) abolished Lupercalia.
Alban Butler in hisLifes of the Principal Saints(1756-1759) claimed without proof that men and women in Lupercalia drew names from a jar to make couples, and that modern Valentine's letters originated from this custom. In reality, this practice originated in the Middle Ages, with no link to Lupercalia, with men drawing the names of girls at random to couple with them. This custom was combated by priests, for example by Frances de Sales around 1600, apparently by replacing it with a religious custom of girls drawing the names of apostles from the altar. However, this religious custom is recorded as soon as the 13th century in the life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, so it could have a different origin