Sunday, 3 February 2013

Who was St. Valentine?

Countdown to St. Valentine's Day!

Day Three

St. Valentine's Day apparently began as a religious celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular story that is connected to St. Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.  During St. Valentine's imprisonment, he is believed to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend has it that before his execution he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell in a note to her.

The day was later associated with romance in the middle ages when courtly or chivalrous love was flourishing.  Since then it has become a day when lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards. 

In Parlement of Foules (1382) Geoffrey Chaucer wrote: 

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

(For this was on Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.)

This poem was written in honour of the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.  The marriage agreement was signed on May 2, 1381 and they were married eight months later when they were each only 15 years old.