Friday, February 15, 2019

05 Works, Today, February 14th, is Lupercalia/ Valentine's Day, With Footnotes - 45


Lupercalia was an ancient pastoral annual festival observed in the city of Rome between February 13 and February 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.

At the Lupercal altar, a male goat and a dog were sacrificed by one or another of the Luperci, under the supervision of the Flamen dialis, Jupiter's chief priest, 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  Next the Luperci cut thongs from the flayed skin of the animal, and ran with these, naked or near-naked, in an anticlockwise direction around the hill. These gross whips were called, februare.

Baccafumi Dominico
634 × 460
Museo Casa Martelli

Baccafumi Dominico
Museo Casa Martelli

Domenico di Pace Beccafumi (1486 – May 18, 1551) was an Italian Renaissance-Mannerist painter active predominantly in Siena. He is considered one of the last undiluted representatives of the Sienese school of painting.

Domenico was born in Montaperti, near Siena, the son of Giacomo di Pace, a peasant who worked on the estate of Lorenzo Beccafumi. Seeing his talent for drawing, Lorenzo adopted him, and commended him to learn painting from Mechero, a lesser Sienese artist. In 1509 he traveled to Rome, where he learned from the artists who had just done their first work in the Vatican, but soon returned to Siena. In Siena, he painted religious pieces for churches and of mythological decorations for private patrons, only mildly influenced by the gestured Mannerist trends dominating the neighboring Florentine school. More on Domenico di Pace Beccafumi

Many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with the shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck. During Lupercalia, the men randomly chose a woman’s name from a jar to be coupled with them for the duration of the festival. Often, the couple stayed together until the following year’s festival. Many fell in love and married.

Andrea Camassei
Lupercalia, Ca. 1635. 
Oil on canvas
Height: 238 cm.; Width: 366 cm.
Museo Nacional del Prado

Andrea Camassei (November 1602 – 1649) was an Italian Baroque painter and engraver, who was mainly active in Rome under the patronage of the Barberini.

He was born in Bevagna in Umbria; and beame active in painting in the Palazzo Barberini as well as in Antonio Barberini's favored church, Santa Maria della Concezione, where he painted the Assumption of the Virgin on the dome. He painted a Triumph of Constantine for the Baptistery of the Lateran Palace, and painted for Taddeo Barberini, two large canvases (1638–39) depicting Massacre of the Niobids and Hunt of Diana. He also painted a Saints Bonaventura, Bernardino & Ludovico da Tolosa for Santa Caterina in Rapecchiano (Spello). More on Andrea Camassei

Lupercalia was also celebrated by the Christian populace on a regular basis into the reign of the emperor Anastasius. Pope Gelasius I (494–96) claimed that only the "vile rabble" were involved in the festival and sought its forceful abolition. Pope Gelasius I eliminated the pagan feast and declared February 14 a day to celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine instead, although it’s highly unlikely he intended the day to commemorate love and passion.

St. Valentine

Although the Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize St. Valentine as a saint of the church, he was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 because of the lack of reliable information about him. He is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers. More on St. Valentine

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