It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Next Tuesday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day. You know the traditions associated with this day – giving roses, candy, and sending cards. But how much do we know about Saint Valentine, the inspiration of this day that celebrates love? Here are a few surprising facts about Saint Valentine:
There was more than one Saint Valentine. There are at least two accounts of saints who likely inspired this holiday. One was a temple priest in Rome who was executed for helping young Christian couples marry at a time when this was forbidden by Roman law. The other was a Bishop of Terni, also apparently executed by emperor Claudius II.
There was even a Pope Valentine. Actually, there have been more than a dozen St. Valentine’s over the years and there is definitely a debate about which specific one inspired the holiday. But, interestingly, there was a Pope Valentine who served for just over a month in A.D. 827.
Valentine means “healthy” and “strong.” One of the reasons it is hard to identify the “real” Saint Valentine is that Valentine or Valentinus was a popular Roman name. It comes from the Roman word valens, which means healthy and strong.
Valentine is the patron saint of many things. While we think of Valentine as associated with love, he is also the patron saint of beekeepers, travelers, and young people, as well as fainting and the plague. Interesting that the patron saint of love is also the patron saint of the plague.
Saint Valentine is associated with romance because of Chaucer. In the late 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem called “Parliament of Fowls” which included the line “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.” This was the beginning of people associating Saint Valentine with the idea of romantic love.
Saint Valentine has symbols. In many depictions of Saint Valentine, he is shown with roses and birds. But please don’t give birds to your Valentine.
Beyond romantic love, there are other types of love including self-love and the affectionate love we have for friends. This Valentine’s Day, take a moment to consider unconditional love. Unconditional love makes us accepting, non-judgmental, and willing to welcome the authentic versions of our loved ones. We can all benefit from starting every interaction thinking that each person is worthy of pure, unconditional love, and come to every interaction with kindness and acceptance in our hearts.
Love is a gift – embrace the love that fills your life this Valentine’s Day!
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications
Source: Leveridge, Brett. 10 Thinks You May Not Know About Saint Valentine. Guideposts.com