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Valentines are saintly martyrs not romantic lovers.

THE ANCIENT SAINTS VALENTINES’ DAY OF MARTYRS was instituted by the Church to hold on February 14 as a day to remember three celibate Christian clergymen who swore not to marry but lived and died for Christ in the second and third century. There were three different Saint Valentines. Two (one of whom was a Bishop) were martyred in Rome and the third was martyred in Africa.

According to Church martyrological records, there was NEVER a Saint Valentine that was canonised for romance with a princess or for wedding secret lovers. All the three Saints Valentines were canonised for refusing to deny Christ even in the face of death. As early Church Bishops and Priests, all the Three Valentines were celibates and could never have been made saints with such romance history anyway. In fact, there was no occasion of or any ancient records whatsoever on secret weddings or on ban of marriage in Rome under Claudius II Gothicus. It is all recent conjectures, confabulations and fabrications.

THE MODERN VALENTINE OF ROMANTIC LOVE is a fictitious Valentine created in the lyric of Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem _“Parlement of Foules”_ written for the engagement anniversary of King Richard II of England and his Queen Anne of Bohemia on May 2 1382 (not February 14). Both royals were teenagers (15 years) and their marriage was controversial and unpopular. In his poem Chaucer wrote:

“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”

It is possible that Chaucer’s lyric may have referred to a pagan Ides (i.e. 15th) of February fertility festival (Lupercalia) in ancient Rome, which had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the Three Saints Valentines. Chaucer’s royal marriage poem gave birth to legends fabricated by Valentine Greeting Card businesses, associating fertility rites (of Lupercalia) with the Valentines. *They moved the date of the royal engagement anniversary from May 2 to the Church’s martyrs’ day of February 14!* Other writers such as William Shakespeare in his 1601 “Hamlet”, John Donne, Edmund Spencer, “Gammer Gurton‘s Garland”(1784), etc, followed Chaucer to associate Valentine’s Day with fertility feast for romance. The practice of lovers calling themselves “valentines” for each other was first seen in the famous Paston Letters written and compiled in the 15th century.

The ancient Church’s days for commemoration of martyrs were initially meant to fire-up the Church to be zealous for Christ even to the point of martyrdom if things come to that.

The commemoration of the Three Valentines has been stolen from the Church for entirely opposite purpose and many Christians are not aware about the manipulation (or is it mix-up?) of historical data. Nor do many make or have the time to dig into the archives. In fact the Roman Catholic Church has officially ceased to celebrate the Feast of The Valentines because of this abuse.

The devil and the modern paganism will prefer people to celebrate romance for themselves than awaken the zeal towards chastity and reverence even at the price of martyrdom for Christ.

Of course, it is godly for husbands and wives to share marital love increasingly (not just on a day) but this has nothing to do with the Three Valentines saints and martyrs.

A true Valentine must be ready to love Christ even unto death; that was what the Three Valentines were martyred for and canonised Saints for.

Ifechukwu Ibeme


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