Pope Gelasius I made the Lupercalia the Festival of the Purification of the Virgin Mary in 494. It was originally a shepherd festival in honor of the pastoral god Lupercus to ensure the fertility of flocks and fields. After the sacrifice of goats and a dog in a grotto on the Palatine Hill called the Lupercal, the priests (luperci) and two youths of noble family ran through the streets of Rome, smeared with the sacrificial blood and clad in goat hides. They struck those who stood in their way with thongs of goat skin (februa) to make them fertile. Hence comes the name of the month February.

February Fifteenth

Strips from a goat's hide were
Used in the Luperci's
Februa feast;
All that remains of the
Aspect is Mary the
Virgin at least.

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