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Valentnes-Day-art - 9/20/08


History of and celebration of St. Valentines Day in the Middle Ages.


NOTE: See also the files: holidays-msg, saints-msg, Holiday-Celeb-lnks, Spring-Celeb-lnks, Love-in-th-MA-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: dickeney at access2.digex.net (Dick Eney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Valentine's Day

Date: 5 Feb 1997 21:57:10 -0500

Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA


Valentine's Day is mentioned in Chaucer (1381) with respect to "byrds"

choosing their mates (byrds being a synonym even then for young women).

Lydgate's _Min. (Minnesinger?) Poems_ lists one in 1430 "A balade made ..

in wyse of chesing loves at Saint Valentyne's Day".  Later evidence shows

that one custom was to embrace the first person of the opposite sex that

you met that day as your valentine.  Young people would meet the night

before, on Valentine's Eve, to draw lots to see who would be their

valentine the next day.  These two customs persisted at least through



So a poem written to your Valentine would be quite appropriately medieval.


=Tamar the Gypsy (sharing account dickeney at access.digex.net)



From: Hillary Greenslade <hillaryrg at yahoo.com>

Date: February 14, 2006 6:53:11 PM CST

To: ansteorra <ansteorra at ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Ansteorra] Happy St. Valentines Day


Greetings on this St. Valentines Day,

If you want to receive a daily posting of the Medieval Saints days, then consider subscribing to the yahoo group for 'Medieval Saints'.  Subscribers cannot post to the group, only receive a daily 'saint' listing.  


Today's Saint Valentine information:

Enjoy, Hillary


St. Valentine, bishop of Interamna (Terni)

Also known as Valentine of Terni; probably the same as Valentine of Rome

Beaten and beheaded c.269 at Rome; buried on the Flaminian Way;

relics later translated to the Church of Saint Praxedes

Commemorated February 14 (removed from the calendar)


Patronage: affianced couples, against fainting, bee keepers,

betrothed couples, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greeting

card manufacturers, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers,

plague, travelers, young people


In art, he is shown as a bishop with a crippled or epileptic child

at his feet; bishop with a rooster nearby; bishop refusing to adore

an idol; bishop being beheaded; priest bearing a sword; priest

holding a sun; priest giving sight to a blind girl; birds; roses;


St. Valentine



At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are

mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One

is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna

(modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the

second half of the third century and to have been buried on the

Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William

of Malmesbury's time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian

Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of

St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church

dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of

both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they

are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third

Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions,

nothing further is known.


Saint Valentine's Day


The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day

undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally

received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14

February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the

birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules we read:


For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day

Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.


For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to

lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending

lovers' tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the

fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the

practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th

Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but

Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each

other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each

other their Valentines. In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews

writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter (we

modernize the spelling), addressing the favoured suitor:


"And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine's Day and every

bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday

night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to

God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may

bring the matter to a conclusion."


Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man

addressing it "Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston





The Origins of St. Valentine's Day



The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but

the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.


The roots of St. Valentine's Day lie in the ancient Roman festival

of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the

Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a

young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and

would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.


Pope Gelasius I was, understandably, less than thrilled with this

custom. So he changed the lottery to have both young men and women

draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year

(a change that no doubt disappointed a few young men). Instead of

Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men,

the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women,

and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of

admiration that included Valentine's name.


There was also a conventional belief in Europe during the Middle

Ages that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus

the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing

love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved. Legend has it

that Charles, duke of Orleans, sent the first real Valentine card to

his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

(He, however, was not beheaded, and died a half-century later of old





Jesuit valentines, described by anti-papist Anglican Archbishop John

Gee in his "Hold Fast Sermon" (1624):


Some Jesuites . . . upon S. Valentines day, chusing some female

Saint for their Valentine; one takes Saint Agatha, another S. Clare,

another S. Lucie, another S. Catherine, another S. Cicely, &c. I

asked them what they meant to chuse such Valentines. They answered

mee, that in respect of their Vow, they could have no Valentine that

lived here upon earth: and in regard of their Angelicall life, they

were to clause Valentines in heaven. I asked them, whether they

thought those Saints knew that they had chosen them for their

Valentines. Oh yes, say they, we shall be honoured all this yeare by

that Valentine wee make choice off, and she will intercede for us,

and to some of us our Valentine doth appear in visible bodily shape,

telling us what to doe all the yeare after. Gee, 43-4




More on St. Valentine:



<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org