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St. Valentine's Day
As Christianity grew in influence, priests attempted to "Christianize" old secular practices. To transform the ancient pagan celebration of the Feast of Lubercus, the church changed the name to St. Valentine's Day. Priests substituted the drawing of Saints names for the names of the girls. On St. Valentine's Day the priest placed saint's names into an urn. Boys and girls then drew a name. In the following year, the youth was expected to emulate the life of the saint whose name he had drawn.
By the fourteenth century, girl's names were once again drawn. In the sixteenth century an attempt to once again substitute the name of saints for girls failed.
Evidently, there were seven men named Valentine who were honored with feasts on February 14th. Of these men, the stories of two of them provide incidents that might have given reason for St. Valentine's Day.
One of these men named Valentine was a priest under the reign of Emperor Claudius.
Valentine was revered by all. Emperor Claudius was unsuccessfully trying to recruit men to serve as soldiers for his wars. The men preferred to remain at home with their wives, families and sweethearts rather than to fight in foreign lands. Claudius became angry and forbade priests to perform new marriages.
Valentine, feeling that this law was unjust, secretly married several couples. When Claudius found out, he threw Valentine in prison where he died. His body was retrieved by his friends and buried it in a churchyard in Rome.
Another version claims that St. Valentine was jailed for helping persecuted Christians. In prison, he performed miracles such as curing the jailer's daughter of blindness. Claudius had Valentine clubbed and beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D.
Yet another version claims that Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter and wrote her love letters that were signed "From your Valentine."
A search can find even more legends concerning St. Valentine. Who knows which is the most correct.
All of the seven Valentines eventually convulated into one. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius declared the day in honor of St. Valentine. Through the centuries the holiday became a time to exchange love messages. St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.
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