I <3 St. Valentine's Day

I think that’s how you make a heart.

St. Valentine is a mythical figure. The only facts that are certain is he was a priest and martyr. It’s widely accepted that he joined Roman converts in holy matrimony in secret. More romantically is that he restored sight to a jailer’s young daughter and left a farewell not to her signing it, “Your Valentine”. One thing for sure he trounced the goddess Juno Februata on her feast day. St. Valentine’s date was set to do just that.

In an ironic twist to the goddess concept her festival made young girls victims of a sexual lottery. Men would chose the names of unattached women from a bowl to engage them in erotic games and keep them for twelve months. If the men liked them greatly it would result in marriage if not her name would be back in the bowl. St. Valentine’s day was to replace and reverse this practice. Now women were to be elevated to a revered and holy place in the home. Marriage was to be an equal partnership of choice and shared affection. Purity was key to make this work within the bounds of a sacrament and so the Catholic Church raged against the pagan carnal decadence. It isn’t surprising that woman played a great role in the spreading of Christianity in the early church.   In the Church they were at last seen as human beings.   There were on equal terms and valued after a long time of being controlled in matters of sex and choice of partner.

There are many reasons to love St. Valentine and his feast day. A man true to his vows even in the face of torture and execution.  A life that changed, not only the world of greeting cards and chocolate makers, but helped change marriage and courtship to something truly worthy of a sonnet.

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