Valentine's Day: Down
As Christianity became prevalent, priests attempted to replace old
heathen practices. To Christianize the ancient pagan celebration of the
Feast of Lubercus, the church officials changed the name to St.
Valentine's Day. To give the celebration further meaning and eliminate
pagan traditions, priests substituted the drawing of Saints names for
the names of the girls. On St. Valentine's Day the priest placed saint's
names into an urn or box. The young people then drew a name from the
container. In the following year, the youth was supposed to emulate the
life of the saint whose name he had drawn.
By the fourteenth
century they reverted back to the use of girl's names. In the sixteenth
century they once again tried to have saintly valentines but it was as
unsuccessful as the first attempt.
While it can't be proved
historically, there were seven men named Valentine who were honored with
feasts on February 14th. Of these men, two stories link incidents that
could have given our present day meaning to St. Valentine's Day.
of these men named Valentine was a priest during the reign of Emperor
Claudius. Valentine was revered by the young and old, rich and poor,
with people of all walks of life attending his services. At this time
Emperor Claudius was heavily recruiting men to serve as soldiers for his
wars without much success. The men preferred not to leave their wives,
families and sweethearts to fight in foreign lands. Claudius became
angry and declared that no more marriages could be performed and all
engagements were cancelled.
Valentine thought this to be unfair
and secretly married several couples. When Claudius found out, he threw
Valentine in prison where he died. Friends of the priest retrieved his
body and buried it in a churchyard in Rome.
Another version had
St. Valentine jailed for helping Christians. While Valentine was in
prison he cured a jailer's daughter of blindness. Claudius became
enraged and had Valentine clubbed and beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D.
another story claims that Valentine fell in love with the jailer's
daughter and wrote her letters that were signed "From your
All of the seven Valentines eventually evolved
into one. In 496 Pope Gelasius declared the day in honor of St.
Valentine. Through the centuries the Christian holiday became a time to
exchange love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of
lovers. Lovers' quarrels come under his jurisdiction and, naturally, he
is the patron saint of engaged couples and of anyone wishing to marry.