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Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine
  • Century: 3rd Century
  • Patronage: Love, Engaged Couples, Happy Marriages, Bee Keepers, Against Fainting, Plague, Epilepsy
  • Feast Day: February 14th

St. Valentine is a widely recognized third century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and has been since the Middle Ages, with a tradition of courtly love.  Nothing is known reliably, except his name and the fact that he did die as a martyr on the Via Flaminia, (an ancient Road that led to Rome along the Adriatic Sea) on the north side of Rome, on February 14th

Several differing martyrologies have been added to later hagiographies that are unreliable.  We do know that “Valentinus” (Latin for Valentine) was martyred on February 14th on the Via Flaminia close to the Milvian Bridge in Rome.  He still remains in the list of officially recognized saints for the local veneration of the faithful in Rome.  St. Valentine’s Church in Rome was built in 1960 for the needs of the Olympic Village, and continues to this day as a modern, well-visited parish Church.  Males that derive from the name Valentinos or females that derive from the name Valentina celebrate their name day on February 14th.  

The earlier sources of the Church records show in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, dated between 460 and 544 the death of St. Valentine.  Pope Gelasius I, who included the saint, first established the feast of St. Valentine in 496.  St. Valentine was believed to be a holy Priest in Rome, who assisted martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II.  He was apprehended and sent by the Emperor to the Prefect of Rome.  Once there, finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith worthless, he commanded him to be beaten with clubs and to be beheaded on February 14th.  Pope Julius I, is said to have built a Church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly – Porta Valentini.  For the most part, his relics are now in the Church of St. Praxedes.  His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, and the Roman Missal of St. Thomasius.  To abolish the heathens, lewd and superstitious customs of boys drawing the names of girls, all in honor of their goddess “Februata Juno”, several Priests substituted the names of saints given on this day.  

In 1836, some relics were exhumed from the catacombs of St. Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, and then it was near – rather than inside Rome, was identified with St. Valentine.  They were placed in a casket, and transported to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love.  Also, in 1836, Fr. John Spratt, an Irish famous preacher, was given many tokens of esteem following a sermon in Rome.  One gift from Pope Gregory XVI was some of the remains of St. Valentine, and a “Small vessel tinged with his blood”.  The Reliquary was placed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and has remained there until this day.  This was accompanied by a letter claiming the relics were those of St. Valentine.  

Practical Take Away

St. Valentine is a saint of the Catholic Church that has been celebrated on February 14th, since the Middle Ages.  He is always associated with “courtly love” although very little is known about him.  He does appear in the official Church Martyrology as being martyred on the Via Flaminia close to the Milvian Bridge in Rome.  Some of his relics are now in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and have remained there until this day.  This was a gift from Pope Gregory XVI, and was accompanied by a letter claiming the relics were those of St. Valentine.