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14 February

The Origins of Valentine’s Day


The origins of Valentine’s Day go back to a holy man, just which holy man is unknown though. There are a few different possibilities: He could be a priest from Rome, the bishop of Ineramna (now Terni, Italy) or a martyr in the Roman province of Africa. The feast of St. Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius in 496 he said Valentine was among those, “…whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” As you can see, even then, they didn’t know much about Valentine.

The first written record of Valentine appears in 1493 in the Hartmann Schedel: Nuremberg Chronicle , which was an illustrated world history written in Latin by Hartmann Shaedel. This text says that Valentine was a Roman priest (maybe just in Rome at that time and could still have been the Valentine form Terni?) beheaded during the reign of Claudius II. Valentine was arrested and imprisoned for marrying couples and aiding Christians in other ways. The marriages at the time were illegal in Rome. Valentine suffered greatly for helping Christians, before his beheading he was beaten with clubs and stoned.

Some make the case that the celebrations of Valentine’s Day did not start until after Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Parlement of Foulys, generally thought to have been written in 1381 – 1382. Could it be the author Chaucer, best known for his work The Canterbury Tales is the originator of Valentine’s Day?

“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
From Chaucer’s The Parlement of Foulys

Who do you think Valentine was?

  • The bishop from Terni (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Some Priest from Rome (0%, 0 Votes)
  • A Martyr from the Roman province of Africa (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Nobody Chaucer made him up (0%, 0 Votes)
  • I don’t care I just want a boy/girl friend on Feb 14! (0%, 0 Votes)

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In the video below the creator interviews a priest from Terni.

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