Happy Valentine's Day from GRI: The Stories of Saint Valentine

A Reminder to Care

Through GRI’s Independent Thinker Series we have been able to share the hidden stories behind the many things we thought we were well familiar with. It is only natural that on this Valentine’s day we continue to do the same by shedding light on the story of Saint Valentine himself… or at least one of them.

Saint Valentine is a man with multiple stories. The main one depicts a Roman priest or bishop who secretly married many people through the christian faith, during a period when doing so was seen as wrong. He was persecuted for the matrimony ceremonies he officiated for many individuals. The story of this service presumably transpired into today’s yearly celebration of love between all individuals. 

However, Saint Valentine’s lesser-known stories include his accreditation as the patron saint of both Epilepsy and of beekeepers. Epilepsy, a neurological condition causing seizures, was for a long time a medical mystery. Before epilepsy was understood with today’s modern science, individuals managing epilepsy were commonly regarded as being ‘overtaken by evil spirits’ and outcast. It was few religious leaders who would try to bring comfort and healing to these individuals. The origin of the ‘Valentine’ name is also associated with different historical terms attributed to epilepsy, so for many today, Saint Valentine is regarded as the patron saint who sought to care for individuals living with epilepsy. 

As for the bees, in ancient Roman times honey was cherished. Stories of Saint Valentine detail his particular protection of beekeepers and the special work they did. In continuation with the Valentine theme, it is only natural that for many Romans, bees were a symbol of love and beekeepers symbolized the protection of marriage and family. 

What is the real story of Saint Valentine? While there may be a plethora of answers to the question, many of which have very little formal historical accuracy, they all at least share a common theme. Whether it is two individuals caring for each other in matrimony, nurses and doctors caring for the sick, or environmentalists caring for the bees - on this Valentine's day we are reminded to care. Saint Valentine, in his many forms, always looked out for others, and put that above even his own persecution. 

Between the chocolates and the flowers and the cards, may today be a reminder for us to continue caring about each other, those we know well and those we do not. 

To all of our employees, partners, families, and friends, Happy Valentine's Day from GRI!

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