Saturday, 15 February 2014

Little is known of St. Valentine, whose feast on February 14th has been associated with romantic love since the High Middle Ages. Derived from “valens” (worthy), the name “Valentine” and the feast may have celebrated more than one Christian martyr. The feast was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496, and the first image of St. Valentine appeared in 1493, identifying him as a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II.

Some believe that the arising of St. Valentine’s feast was a way of Christianizing the ancient Roman pagan fertility festival of “Lupercalia,” which was celebrated on February 15th. Plutarch noted that noble youths and magistrates ran naked in the streets on that day–in honor of Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the orphan infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, or perhaps in honor of Lupercus, akin to the Greek god Pan, the god of shepherds.

— Parabola Magazine, Spring 2010, “Love” |
Art: "Portrait of a Heart" by Christian Schloe

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