May 23, 2022
Who was St. Valentine? Example: Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane

The immediate answer is: we do not know. In fact, it is entirely possible that history took on a number of different martyrs, known as ‘Valentines’, and combined them all to create a great sanctuary of love.

It’s as if Disney movies about Rapunzel and Pinocchio got lost in the mists of time and generations to come spoke of the same character – with long blonde hair and big noses.

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But what was the real St. Valentine?

Edward Kane

There was a priest in our Prime Suspect Room (‘Valentine of Rome’) in the third century during the reign of Emperor Claudius II.

Claudius had difficulty recruiting soldiers for his army. It was thought that the Romans did not want to leave their wives and children to fight for the kingdom. Immediate solution: The emperor banned all marriages.

Enter Valentine Pastor. He started arranging marriages for Christian couples.

Inevitably, Valentine of Rome was brought before the royal court for breaking the law, and when asked what he thought of the gods of the day (Jupiter and Mercury), he replied: “They are miserable and they Has spent his life in corruption and crime. “

It didn’t go down well. But Emperor Claudius was curious and wanted to hear more about this strange little religious sect: Christianity.

The problem was – the mayor of Rome was angry. So, he called for a judicial tie-breaker – Judge Asterios.

The judge had a little girl who was blind, and when Asterios heard Valentine’s preaching that Jesus was the “light of the world,” he challenged Valentine to use that divine light in his daughter’s invisible eyes. Delivered to

Valentine put his hand on the baby’s face and prayed – and the baby was healed. And Asterios changed that instantly.

What is the old adage: “No good deed goes unpunished”… Valentine realizes he has a new problem: if it turns out that an obscure, decent priest can perform miracles and not the mighty Emperor Claudius If so, how did he become emperor? Look not good. Thus, on February 14, 268, Valentine of Rome was beheaded.

And what about the other real Valentine candidates?

If you rent a car in Rome and drive 65 miles northeast and you ask: “Where was St. Valentine from?”, The quick answer would be: “Why – from here, of course!” You will be in the town of Terni in Umbria.

This Umbrian St. Valentine was a bishop (‘Valentine of Terni’) who visited Rome during the reign of Emperor Gillians. During this visit, Valentine converted many young students to Christianity.

One of the students was Roman Prefect’s son – who was in charge of law and order. A prefect called ‘Furiosus Placidus’ (highly oxymoronic). Prefect immediately arrested Valentine and hanged him on February 14.

But it is also suggested that the church’s chosen date for St. Valentine’s Day was not set to commemorate the deaths of different Valentines – it was chosen for a completely different reason: pre-existing To end the infidel celebration: Lupercalia. .

Lupercalia is difficult for the modern mind to understand.

If you can imagine a cross between the TV shows ‘Love Island’ and ‘Neked Attraction’ with the ‘It’s a Knockout’ dash, we’re getting there.

Celebrated every year from 13th to 15th February, the rituals include: (1) meeting in a cave; (2) Sacrifice of goat and dog. (3) skinning animals and making ‘shaggy things’ using their skins; (4) Running back and forth (counterclockwise) waving around the wrinkled thongs; (5) To make women stand in line and beat them with peeled thongs to make them fertile.

In 391 AD, the Catholic Church banned all non-Christian fest
ivals, but it is not clear whether Lupercalia escaped and went underground (and now, strangely enough, educators say It is said that it was Lupercalia that gave birth to the Irish word ‘Leprechaun’ …).

What does love have to do with it?

This may be due to the fact that St. Valentine of Rome helped lovers get married, or it may be a reminder of a time when naked men in wrinkled skins were remembered, but more acceptable. The idea that Valentine’s Day came to represent love has more to do with his work. Basic English writer and poet, Jeffrey Chaucer.

At some point in the late fourteenth century, Chaucer – now known for his Canterbury Tales – wrote a 700-line dream poem entitled ‘Parliament of Fools’. In the poem, a group of birds gather in early spring – on St. Valentine’s Day – to choose their mates for the year. It turned out that Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers. Chaucer’s idea began and spread.

‘From your Valentine …’

The originality of the phrase – according to some versions – is sweet and touching – and not romantic at all.

The night before he was hanged, Valentine of Rome wrote to the girl he had restored sight to, and she signed: “From your Valentine.”

If we go beyond the question of who St. Valentine was and where St. Valentine is, it is still complicated.

The problem with being a saint is that everyone wants a piece of you – literally.

There are various places that claim to have the bones of St. Valentine (at least a few): San Valentino’s Catacombs in Rome, St. Mary’s Basilica in Cosmiden, Rome and – wait – Blessed John Duns Scots. PARISH CHURCH – In Glasgow’s Gorbals, a small gingerbread box contains the part between his elbow and his wrist.

It is often said that love is blind (although John Lennon once famously remarked: ‘Love is deaf.’ It is not known if he had just heard Yoko sing in the shower;) and I think we should leave the last word to criticism (but sorry) in the eyes of this great songwriter, Lorenz Hart and ‘My Funny Valentine’:

‘Is your shape less than Greek / Is your mouth a little weak?

When you open it to speak – are you smart?

But don’t change my hair if you care about me.

Wait, little Valentine, wait!

Every day is Valentine’s Day … “

And for those of you who buy and send cards this year – the forecast is more than 25 million cards in the UK alone – may your heart ever be filled with the dream of love.

And maybe your thong will ever bloom.

Ross Macfarlane QC is a lawyer and author. His novel “Edward Kane and the Parlor Made Murderer” is published by Scotland Street Press.

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