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Who Was Saint Valentine? Unveiling the Legend Behind the Celebration of Love

Who Was Saint Valentine? Unveiling the Legend Behind the Celebration of Love.

London, 14 February 2024

Every year on February 14th, love is in the air as people across the world celebrate Valentine's Day. But who was Saint Valentine? What is the story behind this beloved holiday? In this article, we will delve into the history of Saint Valentine, explore the origins of love being celebrated on his day, and uncover the truth behind his identity as a Christian martyr. Join us on this journey to understand the roots of this joyous celebration of love.

St Valentine Kneeling in Supplication (David Teniers III, 1600s)

Valentine kneels to receive a rosary from the Virgin Mary. Source: Wikipedia


Who Was Saint Valentine?


Saint Valentine, often referred to as Saint Valentine of Rome, was a priest in the third century AD. Despite limited historical records, his story and martyrdom have captivated the hearts of millions around the world. While there are multiple accounts of Saint Valentine's life, they all centre around his compassion, faith, and unwavering devotion to love.


The Origins of Love Celebrated on His Day


The association of love with Saint Valentine's Day can be traced back to ancient Roman traditions. During mid-February, the Romans celebrated a festival known as Lupercalia. This festival was a time of fertility and purification, and it was believed to ensure the arrival of a prosperous spring season.

Over time, as Christianity spread throughout Rome, the Lupercalia festival became intertwined with the story of Saint Valentine. The Christian church sought to replace the pagan celebrations with a more religious focus, leading to the fusion of Lupercalia and Saint Valentine's legacy. This connection ultimately transformed the festival into a celebration of love.


Saint Valentine, the Christian Martyr


Saint Valentine's reputation as a Christian martyr stems from the belief that he performed Christian marriages in secret during a time when Christianity was prohibited by the Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius II had banned young soldiers from marrying, as he believed single men made better warriors. Recognizing the injustice of this decree, Saint Valentine defied the emperor's orders and continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret.


Unfortunately, Saint Valentine's actions were discovered, leading to his arrest. Despite his incarceration, he remained steadfast in his faith and love. Legend has it that he even healed the blind daughter of his jailer while awaiting his execution. On February 14th, in the year 269 AD, Saint Valentine was martyred, becoming a symbol of love and sacrifice.


The Origin of Saint Valentine


The exact origin of Saint Valentine is shrouded in mystery. While some accounts suggest that he was from Rome, others state that he was born in Terni, a city in central Italy. Despite the uncertainty surrounding his birthplace, Saint Valentine's impactful legacy extends far beyond geographical boundaries. His message of love and devotion resonates with people around the world to this day.


Saint Valentine, a revered figure of faith and love, continues to inspire the celebration of romance and affection each year on February 14th. Whether he was a Christian martyr or a compassionate priest, his story reminds us of the enduring power of love and the significance of selfless acts. As we exchange heartfelt gifts and gestures on Valentine's Day, let us remember the origins of this tradition and honour the spirit of Saint Valentine.

(Research and edit by The Decision Maker - Lifestyle editors. Angelos Tsigkopoulos contributed to this article)


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