Valentine: Spotlight on life and myth of Roman Saint Celebrated by Lovers Annually on February 14

Valentine: Spotlight on life and myth of Roman Saint Celebrated by Lovers Annually on February 14

Pressure, they say, makes the shinning precious stone "diamond". For every situation celebrated in the modern world, there is always a long thread of history decked by pain and panic; bruises and blood, and unquantifiable sacrifices.

Valentine's Day --also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine-- which is celebrated annually by lovers across the world does not become a special moment of rejuvenating memories of courtly love and show of endless affection. What signalled what is now termed the "day of lovers" was a result of the sacrifice of a man called Saint Valentine.

A third-century Roman saint highly respected in Western Christianity, Valentine was said to have been unjustly executed on February 14 around the year 270 A.D during the reign of Emperor Claudius II.

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The true story

Although his true identity was questioned as early as A.D. 496, Valentine is widely held in faith as a martyr whose acts were "known only to God.” His death ushered in a significant cultural, religious, and commercial push of celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

Valentine: Spotlight on life and myth of Roman Saint Celebrated by Lovers Annually on February 14
Engraving of Sanit Valentine by Cibera in Christian Century, 1853. Credit: Universal Images Group
Source: Getty Images

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According to history, Rome was involved in many obnoxious and draconian campaigns arrowheaded by Emperor Claudius II who had to maintain a strong army but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues.

Claudius was believed to have held an opinion that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. He, therefore, banned all marriages and engagements in Rome.

This did not sit well with Saint Valentine who saw the move as a great injustice of the decree. He defied the emperor's orders and continued to perform marriage rites for young lovers in secret.

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His actions were discovered and the emperor ordered Valentine's arrest. For being a dissenting voice, he was condemned to death by beheading. Many historians said the sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

But before he was killed, the embattled priest left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

Facts, myth and controversies

Apparently, there are many myths and disconnected narratives that cling around Saint Valentine. Although largely cherished across ages, many believe he was a hero made out of an elevated fiction.

Different characters and storylines

The personality of Saint Valentine is shrouded in debate. According to some historians, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. Catholic Encyclopedia, as cited by the online history archive claimed that “at least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.”

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One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third Saint Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Besides, there are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14. St. Valentine who inspired the holiday of February 14 may have been two different men -- or more.

Skull of Saint Valentine in Rome

In Rome’s Basilica di Santa Maria is a skull flanked by beautiful flowers. Lettering painted across the forehead identify the owner as none other than the patron saint of lovers, St. Valentine.

While many believe that it belongs to the martyred saint of love, the idea that there are many personalities referred to as Valentine makes it complicated.

There was more than one Catholic saint known as Saint Valentine, and there were approximately 1500 years between those martyrs’ deaths and the enthusiastic distribution and labelling of bodies in the Victorian era according to the Atlas Obscura.

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Sanit Valentine may be an idea of Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer, a medieval English poet credited for long Christian poetry like Canterbury Tales, took liberties with history. In most of his works, he placed his poetic characters into fictitious historical contexts that he represented as real.

Some chains of history said there were no record romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem Chaucer wrote around 1375. In his work “Parliament of Foules,” he links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day–an association that didn’t exist until after his poem received widespread attention.

Divided opinion among people of other faiths

Although widely celebrated in some regions of the world after being modernised by Western Christianity, Saint Valentine or February 14 Valentine's Day does not have a foundation in some faiths like Islam.

Of all festivals Muslims are compelled to participate in, Valentine's Day is not one of them, so Muslims do not partake in it and there is always preaching against it.

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Irrespective of debate on February 14 and the personality of Saint Valentine, the Roman saint remains a significant part of the love and romance theorem in the history of men. Valentine provides limitless opportunities to rekindle memories of love and share gifts among loved ones and beloved relatives.


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