VALENTINE'S DAY & ROMANCE - History, Mythology, Culture, Traditions, Love, Dating, Advice, Gifts
Saint Valentine or Saint Valentinus refers to one of at least three martyred saints of ancient Rome. The feast of Saint Valentine was formerly celebrated on February 14 by the Roman Catholic Church until the revised calendar 1969.
His birth date and birthplace are unknown.
The feast of St. Valentine was first decreed in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." The creation of the feast for such dimly conceived figures may have been an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia that was still being celebrated in 5th century Rome, on February 15.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the saint whose feast was celebrated on the day now known as St. Valentine's Day was possibly one of the three martyred men who lived in the late 3rd century during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (died 270):
a priest in Rome
While Gelasius stated his ignorance about the saint's life, the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, gives sufficient details of the saints and for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on the occasion. The very brief vita of St Valentine, has him refusing to deny Christ before the "Emperor Claudius" in the year 280. Before his head was struck off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of "Valentine", "as containing valour".
The Legenda Aurea does not contain anything about hearts and last notes signed "from your Valentine", as is sometimes suggested in modern works of sentimental piety . Many of the current legends surrounding them appear in the late Middle Ages in France and England, when the feast day of February 14 became associated with romantic love.
In 1836, relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina near Rome, were identified with St Valentine, placed in a golden casket and transported to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, to which they were donated by Pope Gregory XVI. Many tourists visit the saintly remains on St. Valentine's Day, when the casket is carried in solemn procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love. Alleged bodily relics of St Valentine also lie at the reliquary of Roquemaure in France, in the Stephansdom in Vienna and also in Blessed St. John Duns Scotus church in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland.
The saint's feast day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969 as part of a broader effort to remove saints viewed by some as being of purely legendary origin. The feast day is still celebrated locally in some parishes such as Balzan in Malta where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, as well as by those Catholics who follow the older, pre-Vatican II calendar. Prior to this action, the church in Rome that had been dedicated to him observed his feast day by, among other things, displaying his reputed skull surrounded by roses, much like the iconography often used by the Grateful Dead.
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