|Valentine's skull can be found in Rome inside the side altar on the left side of the church. While you are at the Basilica of Santa Maria (above), stop by the portico to visit |
the famous sculpture Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth).
MAYHEM & MARTYROLOGIES-- When America isn’t being modern and romantically mushy, February 14 is also known for the bloody anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a gangland ambush killing seven in a Chicagoland garage in 1929. The focus of this blog, however is the equally gruesome roots of the religious martyr for whom the holiday is named. According to History.com on February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, was beheaded for aiding and abetting romance.
The following Valentine sagas are from History.com, AtlasObscura and the Catholic Encyclopedia.
GUEST BLOG—By History.com--Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.
Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine."
For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.
In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February." One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
Legends vary on how the martyr's name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine's Day.
Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers.
A PLETHORA OF VALENTINES
GUEST BLOG—By Atlas Obscura--A skull resides in a glass reliquary in a small basilica in Rome, surrounded by flowers. Lettering painted across the forehead identify the owner as none other than of the patron saint of lovers, St. Valentine.
Knowing just exactly whose skull it is, though, is complicated. First off, there was more than one Catholic saint known as Saint Valentine. Then there's the approximately 1500 years between those martyr's deaths and the enthusiastic distribution and labeling of bodies in the Victorian era.
Finally, and most troubling, there is the fact that no less than ten places claim to house the relics, all around the world.
Little is really known of the real man (or men) behind the myth. What is known (more or less) is that at least two men by the name of Valentine (Valentinus) were known in Italy and died in the late 3rd century, and a third Valentine was located in North Africa around the same time. The two Italians were buried along Via Flaminia.
As a saint, Valentine first gained real notoriety in 496 when Pope Gelasius I made February 14, originally part of the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a feast day dedicated to St. Valentine. The stories of the different men seem to have merged into one over time, with most of the mythology about Valentine being a patron of lovers, helping early Christian couples to marry in secret, only dating to the 14th century and the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer.
|La Bocca della Verità|
The skull can be found in the side altar on the left side of the church. While you are at the Basilica of Santa Maria, stop by the portico to visit with the famous Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth).
Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza della Bocca della Veritas 18, Rome, 00186, Italy. Free. Open: 9 am to 5 pm daily.
More on the Bocca della Verita.
La Bocca della Verità (English: the Mouth of Truth) is an image, carved from Pavonazzo marble, of a man-like face, located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, Italy. The sculpture is thought to be part of a first-century ancient Roman fountain, or perhaps a manhole cover, portraying one of several possible pagan gods, probably Oceanus. Most Romans believe that the 'Bocca' represents the ancient god of the river Tiber.
The most famous characteristic of the Mouth, however, is its role as a lie detector. Starting from the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with one's hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. The piece was placed in the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin in the 17th century. This church is also home to the supposed relics of St. Valentine.
Latter source: Wikipedia.
Short Film on Chicago's St. Valentine's Day Massacre from History.com