Valentines Day: what’s it all about?
You’ll have to excuse me, but when I first read the expression, “A man of most admirable parts,” in Charles Wheatly’s Book of Common Prayer, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. I imagine the English liturgist meant well, when he chose those words to describe St Valentine, but by 1710, his was just another ruffled voice bleating snowily in the wilderness, lamenting a saint’s irreversible shift, from martyr-exemplar to patron saint of carnality; a modification which had begun centuries before with fanciful fourteenth century poets- one in particular- snagged in the exquisite mediaeval silliness of courtly love; rhapsodizing o’er birds and goddesses; embroiling an oblivious Roman in their elegiac tales of love’s intolerable agony.
The name Valentinus has forged a determined path to 21st Century shopping centres, from burial sites north of ancient Rome’s city limits, at the source of the trans-Italian
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