By Rusel D’cruze
Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to around the year 278 AD.
Rome, 14th February: Yesterday, an advocate of courtly love was laid to rest under rather arguably unfair circumstances. A priest condemned to death by Emperor Claudius for an alleged attempt at religious proselytization was persecuted and buried at the Via Flaminia yesterday.
Sources say that Saint Valentine was a pious man earlier placed under house-arrest by Judge Asterius for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians (an unlawful punishable offence). Some claim that he restored the sight of the judge’s daughter and was favored by the Emperor Claudius Gothicus, who sentenced the priest to death when he advised him (the Emperor) to convert to Christianity.
Very little is known about St. Valentine, who has been celebrated as a symbol of romance for his patronage towards eros and his brave efforts which resulted in the mirthful union of numerous couples.
However, most information about him bears legendary elements and many doubt their validity. Some say he was executed for marrying couples so that they need not go to war. This aroused the wrath of Emperor Claudius II who was of the opinion that married men did not make good soldiers. Despite the ‘marriage ban’ not being issued, it seems to be the plausible cause for the execution of the priest.
The cynosure of this incident seems to be the interesting fact that there were 2 priests named Valentine who were buried at the Via Flaminia yesterday. One, a Roman Priest and another, the bishop of Interamna, both at different distances from the city.
The truth of these events seems shrouded with the lack of conclusive information and mired with rumors and unreliable information. What is certain, however, is the praise and admiration for the efforts of St. Valentine and the condolences of the couples whose united lives were the fruit of the priest’s valor.