Saturday, February 14, 2009

St. Valentine Myth

Valentine's Day is associated with romantic love. One of the earliest references in English literature linking a man with a date is in 1382's Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Nonetheless, the origins of the holiday can be found a thousand years before Chaucer. The date of celebration we know today as Valentine’s Day was likely named in honor of a physician-priest near Rome who was martyred--clubbed, stoned and then beheaded--in the 3rd century supposedly for marrying young couples in contravention of an edict by Roman Emperor Claudius II forbidding marriage.

The Christian custom of marriage was inconvenient for Claudius, it seems, because unmarried men made better soldiers. “Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, every one.” St. Valentine was apparently not so well documented by the church as venerated by the laity. So like so many “saints,” the Roman Church removed him as an “official” saint in 1969.

1 comment:

  1. Still, St. Valentine's is a lovely story. He's on my calendar of saints.