By John Smith • 14 February 2019 • 17:00
ST VALENTINE: Statue to the saint of lovers in Terni, Italy
PEOPLE all over the world are spending money on cards, presents and meals in honour of St Valentine without perhaps knowing anything about the Saint.
There are various legends about who was the real Valentine, but generally speaking, the Catholic Church recognises only one Valentinus, a Bishop who was martyred in the third century AD by the second Roman Emperor to be called Claudius.
Christianity was still a persecuted religion at that time although it was to become widely accepted at the beginning of the next century with the rise of the Emperor Constantine.
It is generally accepted that Valentine was a bishop in the early Christian Church who defied a law by Claudius which denied the right of marriage to young people as it was believed that single men were more likely to lay down their lives for Rome than married men.
Initially arrested by a Judge Asterius in the province of Umbria in the centre of Italy, he performed a miracle by curing the judge’s daughter of blindness which led to his release as well as all other Christians who been arrested by the judge.
Later, he was taken to Rome and Emperor Claudius called on him to reject Christ or be executed and on February 14, 269 AD he was martyred in Rome where it is believed that his remains are still kept.
A story exists that prior to his execution, he wrote to the judge’s daughter and signed it “from your Valentine” and when February 14 was designated his special day in 496 AD, the belief that he should be considered the patron saint of lovers became popular throughout the Western branch of Christianity.
Interestingly, there is no record of there being a single St Valentine’s Church in the UK, although there are plenty throughout Europe and his fame continues (at least in commercial terms) after some 1,750 years.
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
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