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[Tidbits] Valentinus


Of course we all know February 14th is around the corner. But how
prevalent is this day? What countries celebrate it? America? England?
Latin America? China? India? West Bengal? Japan? Lebanon? Pakistan?
Singapore? South Korea? Taiwan? Finland? Estonia? France? Greece?
Portugal? Yes. And yes. And yes and yes and yes.

So who started it you ask? Actually. there were a bunch of them. all
added to a list of martyrologies. There was Saint Valentine of Rome
who was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were
forbidden to marry. Just before he his execution he signed a letter
he wrote to a woman he cured of blindness as “Your Valentine”.
Romantical. eh wot? There was also Hieromartyr Valentine. Bishop of
Interamna (modern Terni).

And yet. the holiday came to be celebrated in the High Middle Ages
when a chap by the name of Geoffrey Chaucer (Canterbery Tales) who
also wrote something called Parlement of Foules which was a study of
Christian love. Perhaps this was what caused the inception of the
holiday celebration.

There was also a saint called Valentine who was martyred on February
14th in Africa. but little else is known about him. I believe his
head is preserved and venerated in the abbey of New Minster,
Winchester. Romance clearly takes on many forms.

It was in fact Saint Valentine–they say–who cut hearts from
parchment in order to remind soldiers of their vows and God’s love.
Did Saint Valentine then–I wonder-- send them out to die as soldiers
are often wont to do? Ah. There’s that romanticalness again.

Now I know. I just know. that you are all wondering how the amethyst
came to be February’s birthstone. It would seem that one of the Saint
Valentines wore a purple amethyst ring with an image of Cupid
engraved on it which was a legal symbol of love under the Roman
Empire. Imagine that… making a symbol of love legal.

Okay. Wait. There’s more. In Norfolk England. it seemed that a fellow
name Jack Valentine knocked on rear doors of houses and left sweets
and presents for children. Alas… apparently many children were
afraid of this spooky guy. Me… . personally. I’m not afraid of
anyone leaving goodies on my doorstep. Of course I would have to
bring it all to a lab first for testing. but that’s another matter.

Now. the flowers. There’s a whole history here too. But I am not
going to go into that now. It would take many more pages. Suffice it
to say that on Valentine’s day. we give flowers. And as the fates
would have it. I have a flower brooch to show you. It was made by
Rene Boivin. one of the jewelry greats. It has diamonds and rubies
and emeralds and is modeled as a Narcissus. You know who she was. She
looked into a pool of water one day and…

The flower was created in 1994 and as of 2001 was worth somewhere
around $35,000. The pistil is set with pear-shape and calibre-cut
rubies and round yellow diamonds. The stem has calibre-cut baguette
emeralds. All the rest is white diamonds. You like? Play your cards
right and maybe you’ll get one for Valentine’s Day. Misstep. and
you’ll get a box of chocolates. Second prize is never quite as good.

Okay. Ready? You know where. You know what. Yes? No? The visit to the
image. also known as the viewing experience. You know how to get
there. Home page. Scroll down. Left side.
[Tidbits]. Click. And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will
see a Rene Boivin diamond and ruby and emerald narcissus brooch.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark