Is the Wedding Ring Finger Connected by a Vein to the Heart?

Today we look at the claim that wedding rings are worn on the left ring finger because it is the only finger which has a vein that connects directly to the heart.

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It’s a myth.

vena amoris

This is said to be an ancient depiction of the vena amoris.

Every finger (and every toe) connects to the series arteries and veins leading to and from the heart. The name Vena amoris goes back centuries, but the concept of a vein (or nerve) connecting the heart to a single finger goes back to ancient Egypt.

In a 1917 book on the history of rings, author George Frederick Kunz cites the betrothal of Lucrezia Borgia (daughter of Pope Alexander VI) in 1493:

“…twin gold rings set with precious stones were given, one to be put on the fourth finger of the finacee’s left hand, ‘whose vein leads to the heart’ as the record specifies…”

Macrobius
Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, usually referred to simply as Macrobius, was a Roman writer popular around the turn of the 5th century. In book VII of his Saturnalia, he wrote of a nerve connecting the heart to the ring finger, a belief which apparently originated from Egypt:

De hac ipsa quaestione sermo quidam ad nos ab Aegypto venerat, de quo dubitabam fabulamne an veram rationem vocarem: sed libris anatomicorum postea consultis verum repperi, nervum quendam de corde natum priorsum pergere usque ad digitum manus sinistrae minimo proximum, et illic desinere inplicatum ceteris eiusdem digiti nervis, et ideo visum veteribus ut ille digitus anula tamquam corona circumdaretur.

A poorly-translated version reads:

“…From this very question to a discussion we had come from Egypt, of which I was doubtful whether the true nature fabulamne? call, but after consultation with the anatomy books but I found the nerve to go up to the finger of the left hand born from the heart of a small neighbor, and stop there twisted the fingers of the same ailment, and he was seen as old as the ring finger around the crown.”

(We’d appreciate a better translation of this passage if any of our readers are familiar with Latin!)

Wedding RingsBottom Line
This is an ancient myth which found its way into modern culture. Such myths of a vein or nerve directly connecting a single finger to the heart pre-dated modern understanding of the circulatory system.

Sources

  • Rings for the finger (George Frederick Kunz, JB Lippincott company, 1917)
  • Vena amoris (Wikipedia)
  • Macrobius: The Saturnalia

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6 Comments on Is the Wedding Ring Finger Connected by a Vein to the Heart?

  1. I found a better translation for the Latin text from Macrobius’ Saturnalia. here it is:

    “From this very question to a discussion we had came from Egypt, of which I was doubtful whether the true nature fabulamne call, but after consultation with the anatomy books but i found the nerve to go up forward born from the heart of a small neighbor, and should end with nerves, and, therefore, it seemed like the man in the old ring finger as if it were a crown of about.

  2. ^ LOL waffles, you should change the article now

  3. I don’t even understand the claim… how would it not be connected to the heart? Or do they mean like a ‘direct link’, as in an artery?

  4. chrispy Departa // April 22, 2014 at 12:20 am // Reply

    This may be myth but many of us thing that it’s true as vein that runs directly form heart to finger.

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