The romanticism of Valentine’s Day may have begun by the efforts of early Christians to dodge the draft. Married Roman soldiers were considered inferior because it was thought that their fervor might be diminished if they remembered their family during battle. Emperor Claudias therefore forbade the marriage of young people. This edict prompted a Christian priest, Valentine of Terni, to perform secret marriages. Valentine was arrested, beaten, stoned, and beheaded but not before he restored the sight of his jailor’s daughter. Little else is known of him except that he was martyred on February 14th and buried near Rome. His bones were gifted to King Carlos IV in 1700, and they were deposited in Madrid’s St. Anton’s Church. Catholics venerated St. Valentine on February 14th until his feast was removed from their calendar in 1969 because of his obscurity. Anglicans and Lutherans still celebrate this feast, but Valentine has never been on the Episcopal calendar. Instead, February 14th is our feast of St. Cyril and Methodius, ministers to the Slavs. Modern traditions associated with “Valentine’s Day” may have first sprung from Geoffrey Chaucer’s fictional stories about the day that he claimed were ancient traditions involving romantic love.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
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