To Love, with Love!

The season of love has officially begun, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to rekindle all things love! Love is a language that is understood by all; it has no barriers or boundaries, and is free from all kinds of bias. While you don’t need a particular date or season to celebrate love (how is just one day enough, right!?), the entire concept of Valentine’s Day is simply so beautiful! It allows people to rekindle their love and express their deepest feelings for their loved ones! So when and how did the concept of Valentine’s Day come into being? How did it all start?

Valentine’s Day might be about all things love, but its history is rather dark. Also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, Valentine’s Day originated as a Western Christian feast day. The day is dedicated to Saint Valentine – a third-century Roman Saint who was martyred on February 14 in 269 AD. While there are many stories regarding the martyrdom of Saint Valentine, one written account claims that the saint was imprisoned for performing secret nuptials of soldiers who were forbidden to marry. This was after the Roman Emperor Claudius II put a ban on marriages. When this came to the notice of the emperor, he imprisoned Saint Valentine and sentenced him to death. While in prison, Saint Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and on the day of his execution, the saint wrote a love letter to her and signed it – “from your Valentine.”

While there are many theories that are related to this day, not much of Saint Valentine’s life is known or proved. There are stories that involve two different saints by the same name, adding to the uncertainty. Having said that, it is a generally accepted fact that Saint Valentine was martyred and buried in the north of Rome. History also says that archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church, which was dedicated to Saint Valentine.

Relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church and were an important pilgrimage site throughout the Middle Ages. His skull that is crowned with flowers is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, and all the other relics were sent to Whitefriar Street’s Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. These relics remain there to this day, and area popular pilgrimage destination – especially filled with lovers, who come to seek inspiration on the day of Saint Valentine!

In 496 AD, February 14 was marked as a day of celebration by Pope Gelasius in honour of Saint Valentine. As the years passed, the importance of this day began to slowly fade away. In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church still recognised him as a saint, but removed him from their General Roman calendar. This was because very little was known about him. However, over time, the tradition of courtly love flourished, and this day was being celebrated as an occasion on which couples would express their love to each other! Even today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official day of feast and festivities in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church.

To honour the significance of this day, the first ever recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love was in 1382, in the Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer, where he wrote: “For this was on seynt Volantynys day, whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

Meaning:”For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Centuries may have past, but even today, Saint Valentine is still considered a patron of love, lovers, engaged couples, and happy marriages. While we have entered into a brand new decade, let’s look back at the decade that has just gone by and celebrate some of the most beautiful love stories that will make us want to fall in love again!     – Zainab