The feast of Saint Valentine falls on February 14 each year.
Most people in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and in many countries around the world, celebrate this centuries-old holiday popularly known as Valentine’s Day. In most countries, this remains a working day.
For centuries, people have cherished the month of February as a month for romance that has vestiges of both pagan Roman and Christian traditions.
It was a custom among the pagan Roman youths and maidens to select partners, on February 14. Alban Butler, author of Lives of the Saints has presented an aspect of the Roman Lupercalia as a festival of a “Juno Februata,” under the heading of February 14:
“To abolish the heathens’ lewd, superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honour of their goddess, Februata Juno, on the 15th of the month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.”
On February 14, lovers exchange sweets, candy, chocolates, flowers and other gifts in the name of a mysterious Christian saint named Valentine. Why mysterious? No one knows for sure who the real patron saint of the day is! The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentinus.
Whoever he was, Saint Valentine really existed. Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. The Catholic Church, however, recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentinus.
According to the most popular legend, Valentinus was a holy priest in Rome. With St. Marius and his family, Valentinus helped the martyrs during the persecutions of early Christians. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young soldiers as he reckoned that single men made better soldiers than those married and having a family.
The holy priest Valentinus thought the emperor’s decree was not just and decided to defy it. He performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Eventually, the Emperor became aware of the marriages performed by the priest, and his ministry among Christians and ordered the arrest of Valentinus. The prefect of Rome, on finding Valentinus not ready to renounce his faith had him beaten with clubs, and then beheaded him on February 14, about the year 269.
Like all other saints, St. Valentine too is said to have performed miracles. The legends say that during his imprisonment Valentinus healed the daughter of his Roman jailer named Asterius and converted 46 members of his family to Christianity. The legends further say that Valentinus fell in love with the girl who visited him during his confinement, and before his execution wrote her a farewell letter and signed it: “From your Valentine.”
Another story states that Valentinus was condemned to death for attempting to help beaten and tortured Christians escape from Roman prisons.
Pope Julius I, built a church near Ponte Mole to honour the martyr. A large part of the saint’s relics is now in the church of St. Praxedes.
In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius marked February 14 to observe the martyrdom of St. Valentine said to have died in 269 AD. So, the Catholics are now celebrating February 14 as the feast day of St. Valentine – patron of love, young people, and happy marriages.
These sombre legends portray Valentinus as a sympathetic, heroic, and a romantic person. In the Middle Ages, as a result of the reputation created as a legendary hero. Valentinus became one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Now, the word “Valentine”, denotes a card or letter expressing one’s love and affection for a person of the opposite sex. Sending a ‘Valentine‘ may also involve flowers, candy, and other gifts.
Prayer to Saint Valentine
Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens,
Giver of Love and Passion,
And He who strings the heart’s cords,
Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.
The day during the month of two,
When the date is the perfect number of God
Greater two souls and two hearts.
Some Loves are fleeting,
But that which is built on you will never fail.
So guide the Lovers to know what is to be.
Your truths the Lovers’ mouths should speak,
For Your truth is that which is honest to the heart.
Only this, then, should pass over the red lips of the Lovers.
Your art, the Lovers simply a medium.
It is only with True Hearts that You can create a Masterpiece,
So let the Lovers remember that their Soul’s Desire
Is the one for which You light their Fire.
And let it be You who creates the Art of the Lovers;
The art of two into one.
- Valentine’s Day (history.com)
- Valentine’s Day (en.wikipedia.org)
- Valentinus, the martyr… (thehandmaid.wordpress.com)
- An Evil Plot (wellheregoes.wordpress.com)
- Insight: Celebrating Valentine’s Day (radenazure.wordpress.com)
- The Legend of Saint Valentine (novareinna.com)
- The Pagan Practice Of Valentine’s Day Versus The Divine Revelation In The Word (afellowpartaker.wordpress.com)
- The Real Story | St. VALENTINE (shanepedia.wordpress.com)
- The Legend of Saint Valentinus the Patron Saint of Valentine’s Day (tvaraj.com)