Valentine's Day

My friend Harry, is an amazing person. He is always entertaining and I am certainly proud to have him as a friend.

I am always amazed at Harry's depth of knowledge. It doesn't matter what subject you bring up, he can speak with authority on it.

A while back, Claudia and I were visiting with Harry and his wife Carolyn. As usual, Carolyn was a gracious hostess and set a number of colorful, tasty hors d'oeuvre in front of us.

Harry leaned over to me and whispered: "What are you going to give Claudia for Valentine's Day?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I'll probably buy her some flowers."
Harry shook his head. "You can't eat flowers. You should buy her fancy chocolates instead.'

"Claudia can't eat much chocolate. Chocolate gives her migraines.
Harry smiled. "Don't you understand that you will benefit in several ways by doing this; she will be pleased by your thoughtfulness and without any guilt, you will then be able to eat most of her candy."

Harry's really smart. That guy sure knows his stuff.

Harry asked: "Do you know how Valentine's Day came about?"

I again shrugged. "I guess it was named after a Roman saint. A Christian bishop who illegally married soldiers when an emperor decreed that soldiers weren't supposed to get married?"

Harry smiled. "Some people believe that and there is a legend to that effect. The feast of St. Valentine is on February 14th and was supposedly first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I.  The story that you are quoting is from the Nuremberg Chronicle first published in 1493. The text states that Emperor Claudius Gothicus arrested Valentine. Helping Christians at that time was considered a crime but Claudius was said to have taken a liking to Valentine or Valentinus, as the Romans called him. He kept the good saint around for entertainment value…At least until Valentine started preaching to him. He actually tried to convert the Emperor, and that was the last straw for Claudius. He condemned Valentine to death. They first tried to stone him and beat him to death but that didn't work, and Valentine kept on singing praises to Jesus. They finally ended up cutting off his head.  That seemed to be the best way for them to permanently stop his preaching."

I was impressed.. "So we have been celebrating his martyrdom every February?"

Harry nodded: "Yes and No. There are a number of Saint Valentines and different churches celebrate them on different days. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Saint Valentine the Presbyter on July 6th and Saint Valentine Bishop of Interamna is celebrated on July 30th.  There are at least 11 different saints with the name of Valentine and seven of them died on days other than February 14th.

One story stated that Valentine was under house arrest by Judge Asterius. The judge put Valentine to the test. He brought Valentine a blind girl, that he had adopted. The judge told Valentine that if his Jesus was so great that he should be able to heal her. Valentine prayed over the girl and her eyesight was restored. The judge was so impressed that he freed all his Christian prisoners. The judge, his family and forty others were baptized as Christians."

I commented "That is so cool, but some how this doesn't seem very romantic"

"We can give credit to Geoffrey Chaucer for the love connection," said Harry. "Chaucer's
Parliament of Foules created a fictional reason to associate Valentine with Romance. My understanding is that no such tradition existed before Chaucer's time."

I was, amazed.

Claudia and I enjoyed a pleasant evening with both Harry and his wife.  While Harry was getting our coats I remarked to Carolyn; "Harry seems to know so many details about so many subjects. He completely blew me away with all he knew about Valentines Day."

Carolyn laughed. "He should know something about it. He spent most of this morning surfing the Internet and visiting Wikipedia. When you arrived, he was primed and ready to snow you with his new found knowledge."

I laughed, and Claudia laughed as well.

Harry, is an amazing person. He is always entertaining and I am certainly proud to call him my friend.

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