Valentine’s Day

Hey friends — here’s a little fun history that might get you warmed up for Valentine’s Day!

The southern Rhone port city of Roquemaure is known as “La Capitale des Amoureux” or “The Capital of Lovers.”

In 1868,  Maximilian Richard, a local dignitary, brought St. Valentine after purchasing him in Rome. It was hoped that the relics would protect the vines from the phylloxera infestation that ravaged the vineyards in 1866.

A little more on our favorite Saint…

Valentine was a Roman priest and physician who was martyred during the reign of Emperor Claudius II Gothicus around 270 CE. He was buried on the Via Flaminia, and according to legend, Pope Julius I had a basilica built over his burial.

People have long called on him not only to watch over the lives of lovers, but also to intercede on their behalf in relation to beekeeping, epilepsy, the plague, fainting, and traveling. As you might expect, Saint Valentine is also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.

Geoffrey Chaucer may have invented our St. Valentine’s Day. There are no historical records of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to Chaucer’s 1375 poem, “Parliament of Foules,” in which he links the tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day.

More read: CLARET WINE: A British and French Story

The poem explicitly refers to 14 February as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh there to choose his mate.”

So there you have it, the patron saint of those afflicted by both love and the plague, whose bones were sought to help ward off pestilence in the southern Rhone region, whose legend may have been invented by an English poet more than a millennium later. Make sure you eat honey on this sweet day to honor his patronage of beekeepers as well.

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Image attribute – Pixabay

Categories: This Day in Wine History | ArticlesBy Published On: October 26, 2022

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