St Valentine’s Day is coming

st valentineIts 3 weeks away, but I am about to record a song of mine, ‘Wont You Be My Valentine’, so I’ve been doing a little research.

Our traditions would suggest that he is the patron saint of romantic love. Who was he? The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed. Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

Text from the Nuremberg Chronicle, an illustrated book printed in 1493, states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Claudius was reputedly a cruel despot, and determined to wage war incessantly. When he found he was having trouble raising armies, because men of fighting age quite naturally preferred to stay home with their families, Claudius outlawed marriage!

Valentinus continued marrying Christian couples in secret, and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime]. Eventually he was caught, arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner — until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor — whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn’t do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].

One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it,¬†“From your Valentine.”

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