Behind February 14, Valentine’s Day, lies the biography of a character who had a rather tragic and nothing “valentinian” ending.
St. Valentine would have been a priest from Rome who was beaten and beheaded in 270 A.D. His crime: secretly marrying soldiers with their partners in defiance of the rule of Emperor Claudius II, who believed that celibacy in the army increased the effectiveness of soldiers. According to other sources, the executor of the saint would have been the emperor Gallienus.
A suitable plan for this day is to visit the church of San Antón in Madrid. What awaits us in this place? Nothing more and nothing less than the relics of the saint, including his supposed skull, given to King Charles IV by the Supreme Pontiff in the eighteenth century.
Presumably, the saint is commemorated on February 14 because of a medieval belief that birds began to mate on that day. However, St. Valentine’s Day is no longer a feast of the Catholic liturgical calendar, but only a popular and consumerist celebration. This is because not even the Catholic Church knows very well who this character was or if he even existed. For this reason, Pope Paul VI decided to eliminate St. Valentine from the Catholic saint’s calendar in 1969.
Did you know that the earliest known reference linking St. Valentine with love dates back to the Middle Ages? It is Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem Parliament of Foules (1381-1383).