The Church of Rome, the Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate Saint Valentin or Valentine’s Day on February 14, but the origins of this beautiful tradition go back to Pagan times.
Valentinus was an early Christian martyr from Rome who was jailed around 270AD not only for helping other Christians escape persecution but for carrying out clandestine weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, as Emperor Claudius believed that married men could not make good soldiers!
Any Christian sacrament was anyway outlawed by the Roman Empire.
The legend has it that Valentinus started the tradition of the Heart symbol by giving away to the newly married a piece of parchment cut out in the shape of a heart and inscribed with the registration of their vows.
According to the legend he also started the tradition of sending a greeting card to the loved one.
He is said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailer, and the miracle he performed resulted in the conversion to Christianity of the jailer and his extensive family.
Before his execution on February 14, Valentinus, who had fallen in love with the young girl (who by then had recovered her sight and could read) sent her a farewell note signed “from your Valentine.”
Another symbol of Valentine’s Day (which has nothing to do with Valentinus though but is most likely related to ancient Pagan rituals) is Cupid, the little winged God of Desire, Affection and Love who is also known in Latin as Amor and in Greek as Eros.
I don’t know what Valentinus would have thought if he had known that one day he would be linked to Cupid-Eros…
Source photo Wikimedia Commons
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