The history of Valentine’s day was actually an attempt by the catholic church to end a popular pagan fertility ritual. The origin is actually more like an ancient roman swingers party.
Since the fourth century BC, the Roman pagans paid homage to the god Lupercus with a singular annual rite. The names of the women and men who worshiped this God were placed in an urn and suitably mixed. Then a child randomly chose some couples who would live in intimacy for a whole year so that the fertility rite was concluded. The following year it would then start again with other couples.
Determined to put an end to this old primal practice, the forefathers of the Church sought a saint of lovers to replace the deleterious Lupercus. Thus they found a probable candidate in Valentine, a bishop who had been martyred some two hundred years earlier.
The Legend of Valentine’s day
In the year 270 AD in Rome, the bishop Valentino of Interamna, (today it is the city of Terni), a friend of the young lovers, was invited by (the somewhat crazy) emperor Claudius II to persuade him to stop this strange initiative and to convert back to paganism. St. Valentine, with dignity, refused to renounce his faith and, imprudently, tried to convert Claudius II to Christianity. On February 24, 270, Valentine was stoned and then beheaded.
The story also claims that while Valentino was in prison awaiting execution, he “fell” in love with the blind daughter of the guardian, Asterius, and that with his faith he had miraculously restored sight to the girl and that, later on, had signed the following farewell message to her: “from your Valentine,” a phrase that lived for a long time even after the death of its author.
The actual History of Valentine’s day
Saint Valentine was converted to Christianity and ordained bishop by San Feliciano di Foligno in 197.
In the year 270, Valentino was in Rome, having come at the invitation of the Greek and Latin orator Craton, to preach the Gospel and convert the pagans.
Invited by the emperor Claudius II the Gothic to suspend the religious celebration and to renounce his faith, he refused to do so, even trying to convert the emperor to Christianity. Claudius II pardoned him from the capital execution entrusting him to a noble family.
Valentino was arrested a second time under Aureliano, who succeeded Claudius II. The empire continued in its persecutions against Christians and the leaders of the Church of Rome and, as the popularity of Valentino was growing, the Roman soldiers captured him and took him out of the city along the Via Flaminia to scourge him, fearing that the population might rise up. in his defense. This third arrest was fatal: he died beheaded in 273 at the hands of the Roman soldier Furius Placidus, under the orders of the emperor Aurelian.
The History of Valentine’s Day as a cult
It is commemorated in the Roman martyrology on February 14, the day on which the ancient feast of Santa Febronia was celebrated.
Early History of Valentine’s Day as we know it.
The feast of St. Valentine was established a couple of centuries after the death of Valentino, in 496, when Pope Gelasius I decided to replace the pagan feast of fertility (the Lupercalia dedicated to the god Luperco) with one inspired by the message of love spread by the Valentine’s Day work.
This festival occurs annually on February 14 and today it is known and celebrated all over the world.
Many traditions related to the saint can be found in the countries where he is venerated as patron. The figure of Valentino as the patron saint of lovers is however questioned by some who bring it back to that of another Roman priest, who was also beheaded around the same time.
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