I thought today would be great day to do a blog about St. Valentine. You know, my usual sarcastic stuff, maybe make a joke about how God wants you to be in love but not be lovers.
But to my dismay, I discovered that St. Valentine is a fake! He never existed!
Or more specifically, there were actually something like fourteen martyred saints in ancient Rome named Valentinus, which means worthy, strong or powerful (from valens). It was just a popular name, nothing more.
What's more, we know almost nothing about any of them. We don't know why the Romans executed them. We don't even know which one is supposed to be "the" St. Valentine! What's a lover to do?
(Fourteen Valentines instead of one reminds me of that old philosopher's joke: "Shakespeare didn't write all those plays. It was someone else with the same name!")
The whole Valentine-for-lovers thing was apparently concocted by Chaucer (the same guy who did The Canterbury Tales) in the fourteenth century, which is when St. Valentine became associated with romantic love. Nobody knows what the heck Chaucer was thinking. Why would some guy living in the 1300s spontaneously create romantic stories and a whole fake biography about an ancient Roman martyr whose origins, life history and deeds were completely lost?
But all cynicism aside, this is one religious tradition I really like. A special day for love and lovers! Who could object to that? Certainly not me.
Happy Valentines Day to my beautiful wife!