Spirit of Love: Getting to Know Saint Valentine

Contrary to most cynical views that Valentine’s Day is a fake holiday invented by greeting card companies to capitalize on the sales of chocolates, cards, and flowers, you might be surprised to know that this particular date, every 14th of February is actually a day commemorating an official Catholic saint.

Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine (Latin: Valentinus), who was a widely recognized third-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and associated since the High Middle Ages with a tradition of courtly love. And while most lovers of all ages tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day through various romantic gestures such as candlelit dinners or exchanging intimate gifts, it also happens to be an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and in the Lutheran Church. And since there are several Christian denominations at present time, his feast day is also observed during different periods. For most Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans, they commonly observe Valentine’s Day on February 14. But for the faithful under the Eastern Orthodox Church, they actually celebrate it during July 30, a full five months after the more well-known date.

Most devotees commonly give patronage to Saint Valentine by attending mass services and giving prayers to their significant others as Valentinus is famously known as the patron saint of affianced couples. But Saint Valentine isn’t just the go-to saint for devoted lovers; he also happens to be the saint who protects beekeepers and upholds the virtues of love and prosperous marriages, as well as fending off physical ailments such as fainting, plagues, and epilepsy.

Here are some other interesting facts about Saint Valentine that might pique your interest:

  • Saint Valentine is said to be interred north of Rome on February 14, though this date may mark his death instead of his burial.
  • The feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496.  Some say that Valentine’s feast day is celebrated in February because the church wanted to Christianize an ancient Roman pagan festival called Lupercalia, which centered on fertility and purification, and also took place in February.
  • Valentine’s feast day has been celebrated as a lovers’ holiday and a day of romance since the 14th century, when the date was thought to be the beginning of the mating season for birds.

So whatever your plans may be during the Day of Hearts this month, remember to spare a thought for Saint Valentine who is the true source of this feast day and give him thanks for spreading the joy and spirit of love around the world!

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