Saturday, February 9

Hearts Through History Blog Hop

Welcome to the Valentine’s Hearts Through History Blog Hop! Hop from site to site (the list is a the end of this post) and enjoy historical anecdotes and trivia tidbits about all things romantic. Stories of old love, fascinating insight into love/courting/marriage and weddings from all over history await! Even better, each stop is offering a giveaway you can enter with just a comment, so hop away!

Saints and Lovers

I write medieval thrillers and have long had a fascination for all things medieval. One of the aspects of medieval life that has always intrigued me has been people’s devotion to saints. I’ve touched on it in a previous blog post A Dead Man's Tongue, where I looked at saint’s relics. Hang on a minute, I hear you say. This blog is for Valentine’s Day. Should I be looking at preserved body parts here? I think not. But I would like (like our medieval forebears would have) to look at the saints that might appeal to us at this time when all thoughts turn to love. You might be surprised by the findings.
Let’s kick off with the saint who names the day. Saint Valentine himself. As with many saints, the origins of who he was (and there is evidence there may have been three saints) are vague. But don’t expect him to have been elevated to sainthood because of any kind of special involvement with lovers. Valentine was a holy priest in third century who helped out persecuted early Christians. He was arrested and tried before the prefect of Rome. The prefect tried to make him renounce his faith but Valentine refused. The prefect ordered Valentine be beaten with clubs, which still didn’t make him change his mind. He was then beheaded. His execution took place on February 14, about the year 270. Interesting that the record is clear about the date being February 14, but a bit hazy about the year!
This can be explained when we fast forward to medieval times.  The concept of courtly love with aloof, desirable women was hugely popular during this period. Troubadours celebrated these women through song and poems. In the fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer brought the popularity of courtly love to new heights with his poem The Parlement of Fowles. This poem first introduced the idea of Valentine’s Day being a day for lovers. The Cour Amoreuse was founded in the French Medieval Court, supposedly in honour of women. It first met on Valentine’s Day in 1400, ruled over by a ‘Prince of Love’ who was a professional poet. Noble ladies heard various love-poems and presented prizes to the winners. 
But what’s interesting is that in the canon of Catholic saints, Saint Valentine isn’t the saint of wistful lovers in the throes of a new romance. He is the patron saint for those who have already found their perfect partner. Being the patron for those seeking love actually belongs to the lesser known saint, Saint Raphael. Saint Raphael, according to legend, helped Tobias enter into marriage with Sarah, who had seen seven previous bridegrooms perish on the eve of their weddings. (That has to be a run of bad luck if there ever was one.) Saint Raphael is the patron saint for what is called happy encounters (how sweet!).
You could of course always try the Welsh Saint Dwynwen. She is the Welsh patron saint of love and friendship, who lived during the fifth Century and was one of the 24 daughters of King of Wales, Brychan Brycheiniog. (When I came across those statistics, I felt perhaps that Brychan should patron saint of something, but I wasn’t quite sure what). Dwynwen was devout and very beautiful, and was broken hearted when her father refused to let her marry the man she loved. When praying for help, she was visited by an angel and God granted her three wishes, one of which was that the hopes and dreams of lovers would be met. Dwynwen founded a convent on Llanddwyn, on the west coast of Anglesey, where she was joined by other broken-hearted women. After her death in 465AD, a well named after her became a place of pilgrimage and it remains there today.
There is also of course related saints: Saint Agnes, patron saint of virginity. Saint Anne, the patron saint of fertility and childbirth and Saint Gerard Majella, patron saint of motherhood, both good to call on when Saint Agnes has gone off duty. And of course, good old Saint Fotino, the patron saint of erectile dysfunction, who has a reassuring big white beard.  
So, lovers of love, you are not restricted to just Valentine on February 14. You can take your pick of saints- just like the medievals did!
I am giving away prizes for this hop.  I have three copies of my medieval thriller The Fifth Knight on or here on (paperback or e-book for UK, e-book for elsewhere)
Comment for your entry into the contest.  Extra entries can be earned for new blog follows, twitter follow, pinterest follow, facebook page likes and a double entry for e-newsletter subscriptions. All extra entry activities can be accessed from the buttons on my website. I have comments set to moderation, so if your comment doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry, it will soon.
Be sure and visit the other blogs!
  1. Random Bits of Fascination (Maria Grace)
  2. Pillings Writing Corner (David Pilling)
  3. Sally Smith O’Rourke
  4. Darcyholic Diversions (Barbara Tiller Cole)
  5. Faith, Hope and Cherry Tea
  6. Rosanne Lortz
  7. Sharon Lathan
  8. Debra Brown
  9. Heyerwood   (Lauren Gilbert)
  10. Regina Jeffers
  11. Ginger Myrick
  12. Anna Belfrage
  13. Fall in love with history (Grace Elliot)
  14. Nancy Bilyeau
  15. Wendy Dunn
  16. E.M. Powell
  17. Georgie Lee
  18. The Riddle of Writing (Deborah Swift)
  19. Outtakes from a Historical Novelist (Kim Rendfeld)
  20. The heart of romance (Sherry Gloag)
  21. A day in the life of patootie (Lori Crane)
  22. Karen Aminadra
  23. Dunhaven Place (Heidi Ashworth)
  24. Stephanie Renee dos Santos


  1. definitely interesting insights into the business of love and relationships! ty for all your FuN research!
    I'll be back for the xtras when it's not so late :)

  2. I love the Valentine story! I posted a blurb on the unsure Saint behind the name, and will be covering more history this week. Nothing in history is ever very clear!

    Thanks for the great post. Sharon

    1. I agree Sharon- history's waters are very muddy indeed sometimes! Thanks for commenting and you're in the draw!

  3. I Love Medieval stories and I'm having a great time on this web hop!
    Signed up to follow your blog - sallans d at yahoo dot com
    couldn't find you on Pinterest
    sent FB Friend Request
    couldn't find how to sign up for your e-newsletter, but I'd like to!

    1. Hello Di and thanks for commenting! Thanks also for signing up to follow my blog. I'm afraid I'm not up and running on Pinterest or with a newsletter yet. That's to come and I'll make sure to include you. You're entered and good luck!

  4. Really enjoyed reading about the different saints. Would love to read your book The Fifth Knight as I love anything to do with the medieval era.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Marsha- you're entered!

  5. Such an interesting array of saints to follow. Is St Fotino for real or did you just make that up for the laugh? Thanks for the interesting post. I'm learning so many new things on this blog hop. :)
    -Lisa (slapshinyhappy at yahoo dot com)

  6. Hi Lisa! Happy to relate that St Fotino is real. :) Thanks for the read and you're in the draw!

  7. E. M. Powell-

    I am also intrigued by saints and I probably could spend my whole writing life researching their histories and tales, and finding ways to share their stories! Thank you for introducing me to some new names...

    I would love to win your eBook! (I live and write from Brazil)

    Happy Valentine’s Day!


    Stephanie Renee dos Santos
    Email: stephaniereneedossantos at

    1. Hi Stephanie and thanks for your lovely comments. You're entered!


- See more at: