Lupercalia was an ancient pagan Roman festival that lasted from February 13th to the 15th and was basically three days of drunken orgies,bizarre public sexual whippings,and some kind of lottery where a man drew the name of a random woman who then became his…..ummm….companion during the festival or longer. Pope Gelasius got on the scene and was having none of these shenanigans….NONE OF IT! Gelasius tried to reason with the Roman leaders and festival goers that this was a nasty and sinful tradition,but when he couldn’t talk them out of it,he just banned it outright. Gelasius then changed the nature of the festival itself. The parties continued,and young men and women continued to woo each other,but clothes went back on,the whippings stopped,the orgies stopped and now the lottery had men and women draw the names of Saints that they could model themselves after throughout the year. Much better. Well,maybe not better if you were a pervert. The name of the festival changed as well,and since the feast day of a martyred priest happened to fall in the middle of the festival,it now became St.Valentine’s day. Hershey and Hallmark,please forward a portion of your money to the Vatican. Address it to Pope Francis.
Pope Gelasius was our last Pope from Africa and his own feast day is celebrated on November 21st.