Saint Valentine’s day, sometimes referred to as the Lovers’ day, was established to fight the last vestiges of paganism in Rome. It was carefully put together by Pope Glaseius I, an important figure of the Catholic Church. He was of African descent.
We won’t go as far as calling the Saint Valentine’s day a Kabyle celebration, although we owe its existence to Pope Glaseius, a roman citizen born to Algerian parents. He is one of three African Popes to have served the Catholic Church.
On the first of March, 492, Pope Glaseius became the 48th successor of Saint Peter (49th Pope) after Felix III, for whom he had worked closely, especially in drafting papal documents during the Acacian Schism. His reign, albeit short, marked a turning point for the Catholic Church.
The effect of his doctrine of “Two Powers”, which dealth with the authorities of State and Church, described in an influential letter to Emperor Anastasius in 494, would re-establish papal supremacy — where the emperor was ordered to bow to the will of the pope.
This was later to set an unequivocal premise for the separation of Church and State. Experts argue that whereas his political stance gave precedence to the Magna Carta, Glaseius I would not have allowed the very thought of it.
St Valentine replaces Lupercalia
The emeritus theologian was strict in his responsibilities, both as an administrator and religious leader. He fought vigorously against all forms of pagan rites and beliefs, particularly towards the end of his reign. He banned the pagan festival of Lupercalia, a celebration of love and fecundity under the deistic aegis of Faunus Lupercus, which took place on the 15th of Februray.
In one of his writings he decreed that as long as the people depended on him neither baptised person nor Christian was allowed to take part in the Lupercalia celebrations.
To fill in the void, he is said to have created the Saint Valentine’s day celebration on the 14th of February, 495. It is believed that three matyrs of the Catholic Church bear the name Saint Valentine. Matyrologists only make mention of this in the year 498, while indicating that the celebration of St Valentine’s day was established by one of Pope Glaseius’ decrees.
According to other sources, the pagan celebration was replaced by the Christian holiday of Candlemas, which marks the purification of the Virgin Mary, a time when Glaseius is said to have distributed crepes to pilgrims visiting Rome.
As for Saint Valentine, he became the patron of love during the reign of Pope Alexander VI, in 1496.
Pope Glaseius died on the 19th of November, 496, his saint day is celebrated on the 21st of November.