This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14 -- Feast of Saint(s) Valentine

St. V, with amorous birds
The saint celebrated on February 14 may have been two saints, one a priest in Rome and the other a bishop in Terni.  Or he may have been just one saint who worked in Rome and got a transfer and promotion (and death sentence).

He was a physician, by which I mean (at least in part) a faith healer.  While he was in jail, he cured the jailer's daughter of blindness.  Even though he was a doctor, he spread his faith like a contagion.  The legend says he made forty-six converts of his guards and their families while in prison awaiting execution.  He was beaten and beheaded eventually.

NECCO: the real candy hearts.
As for the romance, he might have been a convenient replacement for the Lupercalia, the Roman feast of human fertility and maternity. 

Geoffrey Chaucer contends that the connection is that his feast is the day in which British birds begin spring mating.  "For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make."  "Chese his make" means "choose his mate," not make his cheese.  Chaucer couldn't spell very well. 

And the New England Confectionery Company found that conversation hearts that said "Kiss Me" and "Be Mine" sold better than little bruise-shaped candy with slogans like "Martyr Me" and "CU@ the Resurrection."

Happy Saint Valentine's Day.

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