History of Valentine’s Day

St. Valentine has a popular holiday named in his honor. Who was St. Valentine? Why was he so important?

Throughout the centuries, there have been no less than seven Catholic saints known by the name Valentine (or had a name similar to Valentine, such as Valentinus).

However, there are two that are believed to have died on February 14th, which eventually led to this day being known as St. Valentine’s Day. There is not much known about either of these men, other than their date of death and location of their burial (both men are buried in different locations near Rome).

One story regarding the life of St. Valentine claims that he was able to restore sight to the blind daughter of a judge. The judge was so impressed by this miraculous feat that he freed all Christians held under his jurisdiction (at the time, Christianity was illegal).

Another tale regarding St. Valentine’s life states that he was imprisoned in the year 273 for presiding over the marriages of Christians, which was a crime. He was condemned to death by the Roman Emperor Claudius II and beaten with clubs before eventually being beheaded.

In 1836, human remains were discovered which were believed to be those of St. Valentine.

Today, what is thought to be his skull rests in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome.

Even though we may not know much about St. Valentine today, he was deemed very important at one time. Important enough that Pope Gelasius I decreed that February 14th would be honored as the Feast of St. Valentine.

While that holiday has lost much of its original significance, we still remember the saint in various ways. There are numerous Catholic churches which bear his name, and his name will forever be linked with young love.

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