St. Valentine’s Day – February 14th
St. Valentine was a Roman Priest in the time of Emperor Claudius II, C3rd AD.
Claudius persecuted Christians and prohibited the marriage of young people on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers, and so Father Valentine married young couples in secret.
Father Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured and one legend surrounding his actions while in prison is as follows:
“One of the men who was to judge him, in line with the Roman law at the time, was a man called Asterius, who’s daughter was blind. Alledgedly, Father Valentine prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.”
In the year 269 AD, Father Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”
Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church, in London, is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian Saint and Father Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers.
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally held in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:
“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
When every foul cometh there to choose his mate.”
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to this practice.
In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes to her cousin about a match she hopes to make for her daughter, addressing the favoured suitor:
“And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.”
Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man addressing it:
“Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire”.
It is a bitter-sweet day