Love on Saint Valentine’s Day

Known as the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers, Saint Valentine still plays an important role in our lives today.

Since the Middle Ages, St Valentine’s Day has been known as the date when birds start to pair and mate! This is due to the ‘Fools Spring’ in the middle of the month, when the temperature rises just a few degrees.

Summer migrants such as plovers, snipes and Oystercatchers begin to move from the coast to the uplands.

Who was Saint Valentine- perhaps he was the priest beheaded in 270AD. A common legend states that he defied the Emperor Claudius II’s orders and secretly married couples, to spare the husbands from war

Alternatively, it may have been the Bishop of Terni, also beheaded by Claudius. He was stopped in the act of assisting Christians to escape imprisonment.

According to another legend, St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter. He had befriended and healed her from blindness.

The Roman Fertility Festival of Lupercalia took place in the middle of February. The 14th was chosen by the church to Christianise an event, which the Pagans looked forward to. Find out more about the life and times of the Romans in Canterbury.

In 1836, St Valentine’s mortal remains were given to a Carmelite Priest – Father John Spratt, by Pope Gregory XVI. The relics in a black and gold casket were taken to the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar’s Street, Dublin. Visit the church on Valentine’s Day to see his relics!

Valentine’s Day was also a reminder to farmers in the past, to start sowing their spring crops and check their seed harrows are in working order before the Spring arrives!

This is the part of the Fleming Window at St Bartholomew’s Church, Nettlebed, Oxfordshire. Find out more about the window and the church here


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