Valentines day is seen as a romantic celebration probably the most romantic day of the year, it has been heavily commercialised with people buying each-other expensive gifts things like Valentines day cards, flowers and chocolates. But what exactly is Valentines Day? And just who was St.Valentine?

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Stained Glass Church Window, Depicting Saint Valentine

    St. Valentine

Well technically there were two or three but One was a Roman priest, the other was a bishop in an Italian city now called Terni.

The Roman priest, Valentine is believed to have been put in prison for helping the at the time persecuted Christians and for conducting weddings for soldiers, who at the time were forbidden to marry.

He reportedly repaired the eye-sight of the jailers daughter, unfortunately that didn’t stop him from being martyred and clubbed to his death in  AD 269.

The bishop was believed to have murdered in AD 273, but some sources indicate this is actually the exact same person. Some details are a little sketchy.

The reason the details are a little confusing is because Valentinus was a common name in Roman times.

The origins of the St. Valentine’s Day celebrations seems to have started out as a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. This fertility festival Celebrated in ancient Rome between 13 – 15 February, Lupercalia is said to have involved lots of nude people running around spanking the backsides of young women with leather whips, supposedly to improve their fertility.

Like most pagan festivals, the early Christian Church seems to have stolen this celebration.

In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasius seems to have come clean by offically declaring the 14th February to be St. Valentine’s Day, now re-branded as a Christian festival of love!

By 1601 St. Valentine’s Day seems to have been embedded as an English tradition, as William Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet: To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.

The high-jacked now Christian Feast of St Valentine is held every year on February 14th for the Western Church, but the dates differ elsewhere.

The ancient Roman priest or bishop has now been immortalised as the Christian Patron Saint of   love, engagement, marriage epilepsy, plague, beekeepers and fainting.

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