Who was St. Valentine, and how did his feast day of February 14 come to be regarded as a day for romance?


Full Question

Who was St. Valentine, and how did his feast day of February 14 come to be regarded as a day for romance?

Answer

Two Valentines are listed in the Roman Martyrology for February 14. The first was a Roman priest who reportedly was martyred on the Flaminian Way during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. The other Valentine was a third-century bishop of Terni who was martyred in Rome but whose relics were sent back to his home see. Some claim that there has been a confusion and that the two Valentines are really one.

The reason the feast day has come to be associated with romance has nothing to do with the two saints, neither of whom had a clear connection to lovers or courtship. The association has to do with a belief, dating at least from the time of Chaucer, that birds pair up on February 14. This belief about biology became associated with the feast of the day, and eventually the thought of courtship and romance came to dominate. In any event, the Church certainly does not teach that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated in connection with romance.


Jimmy Akin