Is this the man who sold out boychild to Valentines Day?

Is this the man who sold out boychild to Valentines Day?

Chaucer, as in The Canterbury Tales writer, may have actually been behind Valentine's Day. The medieval English poet took quite a few liberties with history.

He'd drop his poetic characters into real-life historical events leaving readers wondering if that's what really happened.

There is no actual record of Valentine's Day before Chaucer's poem in 1375.

It's in Parliament of Foules that he links the tradition of courtly love to the St Valentine's feast day - the tradition didn't exist until after his poem.

The poem refers to February 14 as the day of birds coming together to find a mate. “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate,” he wrote and maybe invented Valentine's Day as we now know it.

Chaucer

But there’s another account of events….

The St Valentine that inspired the holiday may have been more than one man.

The saint officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church was a real person who died around AD 270.

An account from 1400s describes Valentine as a priest who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed.

The emperor had banned marriage as he thought single men made better soldiers. Valentine felt this was unfair so he celebrated marriages in secret.

When the emperor found out he was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.

He may also have been Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome.

There are similarities between the priest's and bishop's stories, which leads people to believe they are the same man.

There's so much confusion around St Valentine that the Church stopped veneration of him in 1969 - though he is still listed as an official saint.

“Valentinus” is from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful, and was a popular name between the second and eighth centuries AD meaning there are several martyrs with the same name.

There are actually a dozen Valentines listed and there's even a Pope Valentine. The actual day we celebrate is known as St Valentine of Rome to set him apart.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION


next