The Dark Side of Valentine

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day when everyone declares their love for each other. However, they may not be thrilled to hear the origins of this day are not so romantic. February 14 was created in order to celebrate the life of St Valentine of Rome who was beheaded  because of his controversial beliefs.

Little is known about the life of St Valentine, but he did leave behind a scandalous tale. He was described as a martyr by Pope Gelasius in 496 AD. Like all martyrs, their acts were known only to God.

What we do know is that he may have been a priest named Valentinus who performed  illegal marriage ceremonies, including Roman soldiers to stop them being called to war. He was even in trouble for trying to convert the people to Christianity..

These acts were forbidden by reigning Emperor Claudius Gothicus at the time.

Of course, the Emperor did not like it and had Valentinus thrown in prison under the custody of an aristocrat named Asterius. But prison did not stop this martyr from the pursuit of Christianity.

While in prison, Valentinus prayed for the sight of Asterius’ daughter to return. Allegedly, her sight was restored and Asterius was a believer in Christianity. He and his household were baptised.

The Emperor heard about this and ordered Valentinus to be tortured and executed.

At his execution, it was rumoured Valentinus left the girl a note at Flaminia Gate which read “your Valentine”

The day? 14 February 269 AD.

To celebrate the martyrs life, Pope Gelasius dedicated this day as St Valentine of Rome.

This day had originally been celebrated as the traditional Roman feast of Lupercalia. A fertility festival to honour God Faunus (Lupercus) known as the sheep and goat protector from the she-wolf Lupa.

Today, the skull of St Valentine can be seen in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Adorned with flowers, the skull Is on display for everyone to visit.

So while the world celebrates today as a romantic day, historically it was not so good for Valentines who was tortured and beheaded.  His sacrifice for Christianity has become what we know to be Valentine’s Day today.


Photo Courtesy of Google ClipArt Gallery



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