All is fair in love and war

BEFORE dismissing the commercialism of St Valentine’s Day this Sunday, take note that the  first official St Valentine’s Day (February 14)  was named by Pope Galasius in 496AD, and is thought to be in memory of a third century martyred priest in Rome who defied an emperor who denied love.

Emperor Claudius in 270AD strongly believed that married men made poor soldiers and consequently decreed that all marriages of younger citizens would be outlawed. The priest is said to have defied Claudius by conducting illegal wedding ceremonies in the capital.

It is not definitively known if Pope Galasius was honouring the third century priest or whether the feast day was declared for one of two other martyred priests associated with the date. One was Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) and the other apparently suffered in Africa along with a number of companions. The priest in Rome is, however, commonly held at the original St Valentine.

Perhaps a few prayers to St Valentine are in order as our society increasingly turns away from the sacrament of marriage.

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