Sunday, February 13, 2011

Something new for Valentine’s Day—maybe.

Most of you have probably read loads on the history of St. Valentine’s Day, but I came across something I didn’t know, and found very interesting; an ancient journal of St. Valentine. How cool is that? The author of this article states “The validity of the journal is only as real as you allow it to be within your mind.” So take this story for what it’s worth. I found the history surrounding this story so interesting that I plan to research it in more detail. Who knows, there may be a story there somewhere.

I’m going to start with a tad bit of history to lead into Valentine’s journal. I’ve posted only the first segment of his journal with a link to the full article.

Ancient Origins of Valentine's Day

In modern times, the month of February and St. Valentine's Day has come to symbolize love and romance, and has been celebrated in this gentile way since the days of courtship and wooing of the Middle Ages. But the origins of February being associated with love and fertility can be traced back to Ancient Greece and Rome.

  • In Ancient Athens, from the middle of January to the middle of February was known as the month of Gamelion (actually the fifth month on the Athenian calendar). This entire month was dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera, referred to as the hieros gamos, or literally "holy or sacred marriage". Despite Zeus' constant infidelities, it seems that the Greeks nonetheless revered the union between their king god and his queen.
  • In Ancient Rome, the Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15. This festival honored Faunus or Lupercus, a god of fertility and farming, and was celebrated with annual sacrifices and feasts. One of the aims of the festival was to purify the land and the young women of child-bearing age (February comes from the latin "Februare" meaning to purify). During the Lupercalia, 2 priests, called luperci, sacrificed 2 male goats and a dog at the sacred cave where Romulus and Remus were supposedly nursed by the she-wolf. After a feast, the luperci dressed in the goats' skins and ran through the city streets, whipping people (mostly young girls and women) with thongs cut from the sacrificial skins. This act was thought to purify the girls, ensure their fertility, and lessen the pain of eventual childbirth. Names were also drawn from an urn to pair up young men and women as part of the festivities. This was intended to lead to marriages and subsequent births.

On February 14, A.D. 496, the feast of St. Valentine was first declared, and the Lupercalia was outlawed as a pagan ritual.

The Ancient Journal of Saint Valentine

Most recently I was lucky enough to gain access to the one and only journal written by Saint Valentine (of Valentine's Day fame) regarding the events surrounding February 14Th, 269 AD. The journal had been buried in the ruins of Saint Valentine's final residence, the cold, damp, and dark stone prison of Roman Emperor Claudius. Among the decade prison ruble, a corner of the journal peeked-up from under a craggy stone-bit, revealing itself to the finder. Carefully releasing the Valentines day journal from its centuries old holding place, it became clear that the writing within would reveal the facts surrounding Saint Valentines true self and the events leading up to his execution. As the finder read the tail, cautiously turning the delicate ancient pages, the story of Valentine's Day became very real as told by saint Valentine himself. The validity of the journal is only as real as you allow it to be within your mind; but the facts surrounding the Valentine's Day saints' story, they are as real as real can be.

Saint Valentine Begins to Write His Journal

The morning began with a refreshing goblet of the best wine from our monks’ cellars. The other priest and I were giving thanks for the new day and praying that the emperor would withdraw his newly created law which cancelled all marriages and engagements. It seemed that emperor Claudius desired to grow his army to a much larger number than was currently at hand. His hope for a clamoring of volunteers was crushed as few, if any answered his request. I was told by a royal house-boy during confession that Claudius believed no volunteers came because they feared leaving their lovers, wives and families would break the hearts of those they cared for so deeply. Thus, in the emperors haste for military growth, he gained support in the senate to cancel all marriages and weddings and even engagements— making it all but illegal to fall in love outwardly. I, Valentine, am a man of God and I know my God to be a loving being. Thusly, I derived a stern allegiance to continue to honor the love of couples who seek out the right to marry, regardless of the newly placed law. Unfortunately, I was unaware that this allegiance to love would soon prove to be the birth of my death. For this reason I, Valentine, am writing my final days journal in the hope than a law created by a man will not damage the love created by God.

Read full article.

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