On 11 February 2013, Benedict XVI announced his resignation, which is set to take effect on 28 February 2013, 8.00 pm making him the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
Februalia was a month-long period of sacrifice and atonement, involving offerings to the gods, prayer, and sacrifices. If you were a wealthy Roman who didn’t have to go out and work, you could literally spend the entire month of February in prayer and meditation, atoning for your misdeeds during the other eleven months of the year.
In ancient Roman religion, Februus was the god of purification. He was also worshipped under the same name by the Etruscans, as the Etruscan god of purification, but also the underworld. For the Etruscans, Februus was also the god of riches (money/gold) and death, both connected to the underworld in the same natural manner as with the better-known Roman god Pluto.
These twilight of winter/ threshold of spring purification activities occurred at about the same time as Lupercalia, a Roman festival in honour of Faun and also the wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus, during which expiatory sacrifices and ritual purifications were also performed. Because of this coincidence, the two gods (Faun and Februus) were often considered the same entity.
The ancient Roman orgiastic festival of Lupercalia, was transformed into St. Valentine by Christianity and then into Valentines Day by the English finally to become dominated by commercial American Greeting Card and Confectionery interests in the 19th Century.
The Queen and Prince Philip are scheduled to visit Rome in the first week of March. This may also have influenced the timing of Ratzinger’s resignation.