Lupercalia Italy

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Lupercalia, ancient Roman festival that was conducted annually on February 15 under the superintendence of a corporation of priests called Luperci. The origins of the festival are obscure, although the likely derivation of its name from lupus (Latin: “wolf”) has variously suggested connection with an ancient deity who protected herds from wolves and with the legendary she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus in the Lupercal, the cave lay at the foot of the Palatine Hill, on which Romulus was thought to have founded Rome. As a fertility rite, the festival is also associated with the god Faunus.
Tue Feb 14, 2023 - Wed Feb 15, 2023
Palatine Hill
Piazza Santa Maria Nova, 53
Rome 00186
Years active
Ancient Rome-present
Founded by
Roman Empire

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Arts & Acts

Story of St. Valentine
2000 years ago, the most powerful army in the world belonged to the Romans. The Romans were strong and had conquered almost all of Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. But they had been away from home for many years (service lasted 25 years!) and life in the army was harsh. Many of the soldiers longed for the comforts of home. They wanted to marry and set up families. The Emperor, whose name was Claudius the Second, was worried and so he made a law that no soldier was allowed to marry. By that time, many of the Romans were Christians. And one of their leaders was a Bishop called Valentine. He believed that if a man and woman fell in love with each other, they should get married -- and so he decided to let soldiers get married in his church, even though it was now against the law. The soldiers' weddings were meant to be secret, but as you know, all secrets are hard to keep, and soon the word got out. Valentine was arrested and brought before the emperor who demanded that he stop helping soldiers to marry, and instead that he pray to the gods of Rome. When he refused, the emperor sentenced him to death -- and an ugly death at that. He was beaten, stoned, and finally beheaded. While Valentine was in prison, the jailer's daughter, who was blind, used to bring him his food. She and Valentine used to spend long hours talking to each other, and they fell in love. One day, Valentine put his hand through the bars of his cell and touched the lids of her closed eyes. When she opened them again, she could see. It was a miracle. Valentine's execution was set for February the 14th. On his last night on earth, he wrote his final message to the girl. He signed his love letter, "From Your Valentine". This took place in the year 270, and ever since, lovers have sent each other messages on February the 14th with the same signature. 

The feast of St. Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496. Some say that Valentine's feast day is celebrated in February because the church wanted to Christianize an ancient Roman pagan festival called Lupercalia, which centered around fertility and purification, and also took place in February.

Story of Nimrod
Nimrod, the original St. Valentine, was also known as Saturn, the Roman-Babylonian god who hid from his pursuers in a secret place. The Latin word Saturn is derived from the Semitic-speaking Babylonians. It means “to be hid, hide self, secret, conceal.”  The original Semitic (Hebrew) word, from which the Latin Saturn is derived, is used 83 times in the Old Testament (see Young’s Concordance) under“Sathar,” also “sether.”

According to ancient tradition, Saturn (Nimrod) fled from his pursuers to Italy. The Apennine Mountains of Italy were anciently named the mountains of Nembrod or Nimrod. Nimrod briefly hid out at the site where Rome was later built. The ancient name of Rome, before it was rebuilt in 753 B.C., was Saturnia -- the site of Saturn’s (Nimrod’s) hiding. There he was found and slain for his crimes. Later, professing Christians in Constantine’s day made Nimrod -- the St. Valentine of the heathen -- a SAINT of the Church and continued to honor him under the name of a Christian martyr.

The Ides of the Month in Paganism: Why February 14th?

Why should the Romans have chosen February 15th and the evening of February 14th to honor Lupercus -- the Nimrod of the Bible? Well, first of all, it is important to understand that since the creation, a new calendar date changed at sunset, the evening before. 

Nimrod (the Ba’al or sun-god of the ancient pagans) was said to have been born at the winter solstice. In ancient times the solstice occurred on January 6th and his birthday therefore was celebrated on January 6th. Later, as the solstice changed, it was celebrated on December 25th and is now called Christmas. It was the custom of antiquity for the mother of a male child to present herself for purification on the fortieth day after the day of birth (Leviticus 12:2-5). The fortieth day after January 6th (Nimrod’s original birth-date) takes us to February 15th, the celebration of which began on the evening of February 14th the Lupercalia or St. Valentine’s Day.

On this day in February, Semiramis, the mother of Nimrod, was said to have been PURIFIED and to have appeared for the first time in public with her son as the original “mother & child.”  The Roman month February, in fact, derives its name from the “februa”  which the Roman priests used in the rites celebrated on St. Valentine’s Day. The “februa”  were thongs from the skins of sacrificial animals used in rites of purification on the evening of February 14th.
Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrificial animals and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile.
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