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Why Does Saint Valentine Have His Own Day?

Updated on June 1, 2014

The Story of Valentine's Day

The Story of Valentine's Day
The Story of Valentine's Day
Board book for pre-schoolers.

From Your Valentine

There were many Valentines who were martyred in the days of the Roman Empire. Valentine (Valentinus) was a popular name because it was related to "Valens" --- courage --- in Latin. (Like our word "valiant".)

Back then, you did have to have some serious courage to practice your religion if you were a Christian. Or, anything else not approved by the emperor.

One of these Valentines was executed on February 14, 269, by Emperor Claudius. He was a priest. He may have even been a bishop, but we don't know for sure. This execution took place on the Via Flaminia, a road leading from Terni --- in Umbria --- to Rome. They executed him in the middle of the night in order to avoid a popular uprising, because he was --- and is now --- very much beloved by the people of Terni.

One legend claims that St. Valentine secretly performed the Sacrament of Matrimony when the emperor prohibited young men to marry. The emperor felt unattached young men would do better as soldiers.

St. Valentine is now the patron saint of Umbria.

Many other Valentines were also executed, as well. Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire.

The legend says he dropped cards from the window of his prison cell. He would write, "From your Valentine," to the people who loved and missed him. There are also some stories about healings due to his intercession.

St. Valentine Relic Housed in Dublin, Ireland

Feast of the Lupercal, February 15

William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, begins during the feast of the Lupercal. In Act 1, Scene 1, the working people are being chastised by two tributaries (kind of like cops, apparently) for being in the streets partying on a working day.

In Act 1, Scene 2, Caesar tells Mark Antony to touch Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, during the Lupercal race. According to tradition, a "barren" woman would become fertile from this touch.

Lupercal, around the middle of February, from the 13th to the 15th honors the wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

In the same scene, a soothsayer tells Caesar to "Beware the ides of March." The Ides of March would be March 15th --- when Caesar was assassinated. Therefore, the play begins exactly one month before the assassination, on Lupercal.

The Story of Saint Valentine

The Story of Saint Valentine
The Story of Saint Valentine
Very sweet, short paperback, with simple, cheerful pictures. Only a few words on each page, lots of space.

No More Lupercal after Pope Gelasius in the Fifth Century

So, Lupercal was very close to what is now the date of St. Valentine's Day.

Lupercal probably had something to do with protecting the flocks of sheep from wolves. It also apparently had something to do with purification and fertility.

On the Feast of the Lupercal, a young man would pick a young lady's name from a bowl.

Pope Gelasius suppressed the the Lupercal in the fifth century. Nevertheless, it seems that Lupercal and St. Valentine's Day each have a connection with love.

Children's Books About the Catholic Priest and Martyr

Saint Valentine
Saint Valentine
Mostly for older children.
Heart Pillow and Bear With Heart. Cute!
Heart Pillow and Bear With Heart. Cute!

You Tube Video from Rome Reports About Saint Valentine


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