Dear all,

February brings to mind many things: the first glimpses of spring (if we’re lucky), pancake day (or Shrove Tuesday) and then the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday) and the retailer’s favourite, St. Valentine’s Day.

Despite the cynic in me, I’ve nothing against something which feeds love – there’s too much hate in the world and the celebration of love is at least positive. I went to Italy a couple of years ago and found myself in the famed courtyard attributed to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Verona – apart from a massive tourist spot, what really took me was the graffiti on the walls of the corridor leading to the courtyard. Years and years of love messages adorned the area….. it really grabbed the cynic in me and gave it a shake. Yes, it was a tourist trap, yes, it was an excuse for daubing the walls in sentiment, but it was also a testament to human love.

In writing this, I thought I’d have a delve into the life of St. Valentine – he was after all a saint. These were my findings: there are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day. Some suggest it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred on 14th. February 269 AD for refusing to give up Christianity. Legend also states that he left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, signing it “From Your Valentine”. Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. He married Christian couples during a time when to do so was considered a crime and he was thus arrested and imprisoned. Whoever he was, Valentine actually existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.

And so none of this is about a boost to the ego or a boost to the economy of Clinton cards. It’s about emphasising love: love overcoming the darkness of hate. So as you watch the news and sigh with sorrow at the popularity in the publication of hate let’s raise a toast to love, ‘For love is the movement, effusion and advancement of the heart toward the good.’

Best wishes,


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