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Communion of Saints: St. Valentine, Feast day Feb. 14

Although his name is very well known (especially in the greeting card, candy and flower industries), the actual identity of St. Valentine is not as clearly defined. In fact, there are three Valentines associated with February 14th who are mentioned in the early martyrologies; however, some scholars believe that two of them, one described as a priest and another as a bishop, may actually have been one and the same person.

What we can say about this saint is that he was likely an Italian who suffered martyrdom in the second half of the third century. According to one account, he was arrested for providing aid to imprisoned Christians; it has also been said that he converted his jailor by restoring sight to that man's blind daughter.

How the feast of an early martyr became associated with love and lovers is unclear, but some have speculated that Valentine may have been martyred as part of the "entertainment" provided during the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, in which young men and women paired up to honor the fertility goddess, Februata Juno. However it happened, there is no question that Valentine's name has been associated with romantic love at least since the Middle Ages, a custom which continues down to the present day.

Sources for these articles include:



"Saint Valentine of Rome." CatholicSaints.Info. 1 July 2015.

"Saint Scholastica." CatholicSaints.Info. 2 July 2015.

Shreck, Alan. "Catholic Church History from A to Z." Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 2002.

Thurston, Herbert. "St. Valentine." The Catholic Encyclopedia, 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.

Last modified onWednesday, 27 July 2016 10:20
Kay Winchester

Kay Winchester lives and works in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

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