|The Strange History of Saint Valentineby Dirk Vander Ploeg UPDATED: 11:25 February 13, 2010
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At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of February 14!
One is described as a priest of Rome, another as the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two men seem both seem to have suffered in the second half of the third century were been buried on the Flaminian Way, a Roman road leading from Rome to Ariminum (Rimini), and was the most important route to the north, but at different distances from the city.
In William of Malmesbury's time (12th century) 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. He was an english historian and was born about the year 1080/1095, in Wiltshire. His father was Norman and his mother English. He spent his whole life in England, and his adult life as a monk at Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire, England.1 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 a relatively late date and of no historical importance. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with several companions, nothing further is known.
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs,
are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of February 14.
Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno.2 Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
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