Did you know St. Valentine is considered to be the patron saint of epilepsy? True story.
Medicine and religion have long been intertwined, however medical practitioners were sometimes regarded skeptically in medieval times causing people to seek spiritual intervention for their illnesses.
In addition, brain disorders in the 14th and 15th centuries were widely regarded as supernatural phenomena incited by evil spirits or the devil.
Because many people believed their symptoms were the work of dark spiritual forces, it made sense for them to combat their perceived tormenters with an antidote to evil in the form of saints—in particular patron saints—who were believed to have restorative abilities for specific ailments.
Information on the origins of St. Valentine’s connection to epilepsy varies. Some accounts suggest he is connected to epilepsy because the name Valentine is similar to the German word for “fallen.” Epilepsy was once known as the “falling sickness” because some seizures cause a person to lose consciousness and fall. Still other legends propose that a 3rd century bishop named Valentine von Terni freed the son of a Roman orator from an epileptic seizure.
The good news is, medical research and an increasing variety of scientifically proven therapies have improved the lives of the nearly 3 million people living with epilepsy in the United States, significantly diminishing the need to turn to supernatural forces for respite!
So, in the wake of this Valentine’s Day, when all the sugar-coated, floral-scented hype has passed, remember that Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers, it’s for people with epilepsy, too.