Valentine’s Day, or St Valentine’s Day, is celebrated every year on 14 February.
It’s the day when people show their affection for another person or people by sending cards, flowers or chocolates with messages of love.
Who was St Valentine?
The day gets its name from a famous saint, but there are several stories of who he was.
The popular belief about St Valentine is that he was a priest from Rome in the third century AD.
How did Valentine’s Day start?
Having a particular Valentine’s Day is a very old tradition, thought to have originated from a Roman festival.
The Romans had a festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February – officially the start of their springtime.
It’s thought that as part of the celebrations, boys drew names of girls from a box. They’d be boyfriend and girlfriend during the festival and sometimes they’d get married.
Later on, the church wanted to turn this festival into a Christian celebration and decided to use it to remember St Valentine too.
Gradually, St Valentine’s name started to be used by people to express their feelings to those they loved.
When did Valentine’s day start?
The first Valentine’s Day was in the year 496!
Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine . The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome ( Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni ( Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae ).
Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Galesius in 496 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. The relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church and Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which “remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St. Valentine were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV “. The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics are found at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.
Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian in 273. He is buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location from Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni ( Basilica di San Valentino ). Jack B. Oruch states that “abstracts of the acts of the two saints were in nearly every church and monastery of Europe.” The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him. Saint Valentine’s head was preserved in the abbey of New Minster, Winchester, and venerated.
February 14 is celebrated as St. Valentine’s Day in various Christian denominations; it has, for example, the rank of ‘commemoration’ in the calendar of saints in the Anglican Communion. In addition, the feast day of Saint Valentine is also given in the calendar of saints of the Lutheran Church . However, in the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.”
The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan ( Malta ) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, and also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Second Vatican Council calendar.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church , St. Valentine is recognized on July 6, in which Saint Valentine , the Roman presbyter, is honoured; in addition, the Eastern Orthodox Church observes the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, on July 30.