The History of St. Valentine’s Day
St. Valentine’s Day began as a religious celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Nothing is known reliably of St. Valentine except his name and that he died on the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14 sometime around the year 270.
The ‘Roman Martyrology‘, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, for February 14 gives only one Saint Valentine. It records that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius is said to have taken a liking to his prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon the priest was condemned to death.
The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, but many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.
The earliest surviving valentines in English appear in the Paston Letters, written in 1477 by Margery Brewes to her future husband John Paston “my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly”.
Love it or hate it, Valentines Day is getting ever nearer so why not buy your loved one a personal gift to remember that romantic place and time in your life?
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