February 2016

     In February, most classrooms highlight themes of Cupid to teach children about the nature and traditions of love. But many students still do not understand Saint Valentine's roots, what his life was about, or how the amethyst came to be the birthstone for February. It all had to do with love in early Rome!

     Bede wrote that Saint Valentine was a priest who was imprisoned for "sucouring" persecuted people; records of Saint Valentine were destroyed during the 4th century. In 6th century, Passio Marii et Marthae was published, a story of the martyrdom of Saint Valentine of Rome.

     It is said that Saint Valentine wore a purple amethyst ring, customary for Christian bishops with an image of Cupid engraved in it, a recognizable symbol associated with love that was legal under the Roman Empire; Roman soldiers recognized it and asked him to perform marriages for them. Due to an association with Saint Valentine, amethyst  became February's birthstone, which is thought to attract love.

     Artists who studied the legend of Saint Valentine for their subject  matter  made symbols of love famous in their own ways. Botticelli and Raphael made their angelic putti hallmarks of Italian Renaissance culture; van Eyck painted the marriage portrait of a wealthy merchant, Arnolfini; della Francesca painted Battista Sforza e Federico da Montefeltro , a very famous Renaissance double marriage portrait.


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