Relics of St. Valentine of Terni at the basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin. Dnalor 01 (Own work)

The ‘real’ St. Valentine was no patron of love

Valentine's Day originated as a feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two. So how did the day become a celebration of love?
Worshippers at Ash Wednesday mass. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

Why do Christians wear ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Churches started to use ashes early as the ninth century as a symbol of repentance. In 1091, Pope Urban II ritualized their use to mark the beginning of Lent. Today, churches provide 'ashes to go.'
What does it mean when public figures say sorry? AP Photo/Paul Sancya

The art of the public apology

Public apologies are a type of performance before a larger audience, and they are to be understood in terms that are different from a private apology.
The tomb of Abelard and Héloise. Alexandre Lenoir, via Wikimedia Commons

What a medieval love saga says about modern-day sexual harassment

An affair between a philosophy professor and his teenage student became the subject of ballads in the streets of Paris in the 12th century. A scholar asks: Why wasn't it called sexual harassment?
Worshippers depart a church service at the Crystal Cathedral megachurch in Garden Grove. Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

How California’s megachurches changed Christian culture

California megachurches played a significant role in how millions of people - Christian or not - understand Christianity.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands during a service at the International Church of Las Vegas in Las Vegas in Oct. 2016. AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

How the religious right shaped American politics: 6 essential reads

Trump embraced evangelicals in his first year as president. Here, scholars provide historical context to how the religious right has shaped American politics over the past decades.
Pious drinking. Walter Dendy Sadler via Wikimedia Commons

Feeling guilty about drinking? Well, ask the saints

For those wondering whether it is sinful to drink, even moderately, a scholar goes into the history of alcohol and its distillation to show how early monks and priests contributed to it.
Immaculate Heart College Art Department c. 1955. Photograph by Fred Swartz. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

How a group of California nuns challenged the Catholic Church

In the '60s, a Roman Catholic religious order, the Immaculate Heart Sisters, created a new vision of a religious community. Meghan Markle, engaged to Prince Harry, attended the high school founded by the nuns.

More Analysis and Comment

Just a thought

it is reasonable to ask whether attention and distraction are simply two morally and culturally charged terms referring to what in reality is the same behavior. David Marno

Research and Expert Database

Editors' Picks

Most Read past week

  1. 10 things to know about the real St. Patrick
  2. Arguments why God (very probably) exists
  3. Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday
  4. The messy reality of religious liberty in America
  5. The Case for Christ: What’s the evidence for the resurrection?

Pitch an idea

Got a news tip or article idea for The Conversation?

Tell us

Our Audience

The Conversation has a monthly audience of 5 million users, and reach of 35 million through Creative Commons republication.

Want to Write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 64,400 academics and researchers from 2,284 institutions.

Register now

Make a Donation

The Conversation relies on university, foundation and reader support. If you would like to help us have even better conversations, then you may like to make a one-off or on-going donation.