Ancient Greek Influences on St. Valentine’s Day

Arcadia is an amazing part of mainland Greece, mountainous, the two main mountains, being, Mount Lykaion and Mount Mainalo, with forests of chestnut and oak, dissected by the rushing rivers of the Alpheios, and the Lousios, where the nymphs were said to have bathed the infant Zeus.

Since the time of the ancients, Arcadia has been the inspiration for many poets, painters, and writers.

Virgil, (Roman poet) aroused by Arcadia, wrote his "The Eclogues" a series of poems, set in Arcadia, Jacopo Sannazaro, Italian poet and humanist, influenced by the otherworldliness of the place, wrote his pastoral poem, Arcadia.

Back then, in ancient Greece, at the beginning of  spring, among the mythical green meadows of Arcadia, where the God of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, and rustic music, Pan (Faunus in Latin), frolicked with the nymphs, wooing them with his magical pipe, there was held a festival, a ritual of spring cleaning.

This festival, held around the fifteenth of February, to honour Pan, on the day he founded his temple, was called The Festival of the Arcadian Lykaia.when the city was cleansed  of evil spirits, and people’s souls were purified, bringing health and fertility.
The Arcadian Lykaia, was celebrated on the slopes of Mount Lykaion, “Wolf Mountain”, the highest mountain in Arcadia.
Later became a Roman celebration with the name Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly a festival, observed on February 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February (Februarius) its name.
The Lupercalian Festival in Rome (ca. 1578–1610), drawing by the circle of Adam Elsheimer, showing the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats, with Cupid and personifications of fertility

The name Lupercalia with the Ancient Greek festival of the Arcadian Lykaia (from Ancient Greek: λύκος — lukos, "wolf", Latin lupus) and the worship of Lycaean Pan, assumed to be a Greek equivalent to Faunus, as instituted by Evander.

In Roman mythology, Lupercus is a god sometimes identified with the Roman god Faunus, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan. Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on February 15, was called the Lupercalia. His priests wore goatskins. The historian Justin mentions an image of "the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan and the Romans Lupercus," nude save for the girdle of goatskin, which stood in the Lupercal, the cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. There, on the Ides of February (in February the ides is the 13th), a goat and a dog were sacrificed, and salt mealcakes prepared by the Vestal Virgins were burnt.

The Lupercalia festival was partly in honor of Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, explaining the name of the festival, Lupercalia, or "Wolf Festival." The festival was celebrated near the cave of Lupercal on the Palatine Hill (the central hill where Rome was traditionally founded), to expiate and purify new life in the Spring. A known Lupercalia festival of 44 BC attests to the continuity of the festival but the Lupercal cave may have fallen into disrepair, and was later rebuilt by Augustus. It has been tentatively identified with a cavern discovered in 2007, 50 feet (15 m) below the remains of Augustus' palace.

The rites were directed by the Luperci, the "brothers of the wolf (lupus)", a corporation of sacerdotes (priests) of Faunus, dressed only in a goatskin, whose institution is attributed either to the Arcadian Evander, or to Romulus and Remus. The Luperci were divided into two collegia, called Quinctiliani (or Quinctiales) and Fabiani, from the gens Quinctilia (or Quinctia) and gens Fabia; at the head of each of these colleges was a magister. In 44 BC, a third college, the Julii, was instituted in honor of Julius Caesar, the first magister of which was Mark Antony. Antony offered Caesar a crown during the festival, an act that was widely interpreted as a sign that Caesar aspired to make himself king and was gauging the reaction of the crowd. In imperial times the members were usually of equestrian standing.

The festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci (or the flamen dialis) of two male goats and a dog. Next two young patrician Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh.

The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the animals, which were called februa, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, in imitation of Lupercus, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city, the line of which was marked with stones, with the thongs in their hands in two bands, striking the people who crowded near. Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was supposed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women and ease the pains of childbirth.

The celebration in Greece under Roman Empire
The ancient greek celebration  has passed to the Romans and came back to Greece with a new form.
The ancient Greek writers, indeed, and their successors considered the celebration dedicated to the god Pan and the first rapporteur of the Arcadian Evander, in their attempt to equate Roman deities with corresponding Greek.

In Roman mythology, Evander (from Greek Εὔανδρος Euandros, "good man" or "strong man": an etymology used by poets to emphasize the hero's virtue) was a culture hero from Arcadia, Greece, who brought the Greek pantheon, laws, and alphabet to Italy, where he founded the city of Pallantium on the future site of Rome, sixty years before the Trojan War. He instituted the festival of the Lupercalia. Evander was deified after his death and an altar was constructed to him on the Aventine Hill.

Evander was born to Mercury and Carmenta, and his wisdom was beyond that of all Arcadians. His son Pallas apparently died childless; however, the gens Fabia claimed descent from Evander.

Valentine’s Day
n “ Lifes of the Principal Saints” , Alban Butler claimed that a practice during Lupercalia, in which men and women would place their names in jars and the names would be drawn to create pairings, was the start of the ritual of exchanging Valentine’s Day love notes. However, there is no evidence linking Valentine’s Day to Lupercalia, or to the practice of pulling names to pair men and women into couples.
In 1382, Geoffrey Chaucer authored “ Parlement of Foules” , within which he wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day 
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

This translates to “ For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” There has been an assumption that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine’s Day, but there are many arguments under which Chaucer could have been referring to any number of days during the year. For example, it is unlikely that birds in the area would be choosing a mate during the winter month of February.
Another possibility for the origin of Valentine’s Day involves Christian priest, St. Valentine. It is alleged that at one point, Roman emperor Claudius II banned marriage to prevent young men from avoiding the draft by marrying. Valentinus, a Christian priest, agreed to perform secret marriages for those who wished to become married. However, it has been argued that no such ban on marriage ever took place, and that Claudius II, in fact, urged his men to take multiple wives. 

Another story of St. Valentine claims that a priest by such name was jailed when he fell in love with the warden’s daughter. He would write her notes signed “Your Valentine,” for which he was eventually beheaded. Many Christian priests named Valentine were martyrs, and Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 in many Christian denominations. In the Anglican Communion it has the rank of 'commemoration' in the calendar of saints. The calendar of saints for the Lutheran church includes the feast of St. Valentine. However, in the Roman Catholic Church, the feast of St. Valentine was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969.

Throughout modern times, Valentine’s Day has continued to evolve. In 1797, mass-produced Valentine’s cards came into production, after the publication of a book called “ The Young Man's Valentine Writer” . Rather than writing individual notes to their beloved, men could take from these scripts. In the 19 century in England, paper Valentines became very popular, adorned with embellishments such as ribbon and lace. Mass production of Valentines in the United States began in 1847 when Esther Howland, inspired by a Valentine received from Europe, began selling Valentines through her father’s stationery store.

Relics and liturgical celebration
St. Valentine's remains are deposited in Madrid. The relics can be found in St Anton's Church, where they lie since late 1700's. They were a present from the Pope to King Carlos IV, who entrusted them to the The Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (Piarists). The relics are displayed publicly since 1984, in what is now a foundation open to public 24/7 in order help people in need.

St. Valentine's remains are also believed to be in Dublin. In 1836, some relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, then near (rather than inside) Rome, were identified with St Valentine; placed in a casket, and transported to the procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love.

Also in 1836, Fr. John Spratt, an Irish priest and famous preacher, was given many tokens of esteem following a sermon in Rome. One gift from Pope Gregory XVI were the remains of St. Valentine and "a small vessel tinged with his blood." The Reliquary was placed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and has remained there until this day. This was accompanied by a letter claiming the relics were those of St. Valentine.

Another relic was found in 2003 in Prague in Church of St Peter and Paul at Vyšehrad.

A silver reliquary containing a fragment of St. Valentine's skull is found in the parish church of St. Mary's Assumption in Chelmno, Poland.

Relics can also be found in the Greek island of Lesbos.
The Municipality of Lesbos will commemorate Saint Valentine with a series of events at the Church of Metastasis of Virgin Mary in Mytilene where the holy relics of the saint lie.
The Greek Post Office, honoring Saint Valentine and Lesvos where the holy relics are hosted since 1907, issued a series of stamps and numismatic special commemorative envelopes that will travel around the world.

A series of events took place yesterday and will continue today. Yesterday, the Municipal Band participated in the procession of the holy relics of the saint, in the market and at the Mytilene waterfront.

Today, Saturday, February 14, at the Municipal Theatre of Mytilene at 7:30 p.m., there will be love song concert with the participation of famous artists.

Saint Valentine is not mentioned anywhere in the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar. The Greek Orthodox Church suggests to lovers to celebrate their love the day before, on February 13, in memory of Saints Aquila and Priscilla.

How the bones of Saint Valentine culminated in Greece

Saint Priscilla is somehow connected with Saint Valentine as the beheaded body of Valentine was buried in the catacomb of the church honoring Saint Priscilla in the year 270.

The Pope Saint Gelasius sanctified Valentine in 496 and his martyrdom was particularly respected and honored by the Roman Catholic Church. The eternal repose of the saint was disrupted in 1815, when the Pope donated his relics to a noble Italian priest.

However, in 1907 the relics of Saint Valentine somehow ended up in Mytilene, at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady. It seems that after the death of the Italian priest, one of his descendants inherited the holy relics and migrated to the island of Lesbos. At the time, the island had a thriving community of western-European Catholic Christians.

The relics of Saint Valentine remained there until 1990, when they were transferred to Athens, in the church of Saints Francis and Clara of the Italian community. In 2014, they were transferred to Mytilene again.

The story of Eros and Psyche
The story of Eros and Psyche appears in Greek art as early as the 4th century BC, but the most extended literary source of the tale is the Latin novel The Golden Ass, also known as Metamorphoses, by Apuleius (2nd century AD). 
Often presented as an allegory of love overcoming death, the myth was a frequent image on Roman sarcophagi. The novel itself is written in a picaresque Roman style, yet Psyche retains her Greek name. Eros and Aphrodite are called by their Latin names Cupid and Venus, and Cupid is depicted as a young adult, rather than a child.\

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