Who was Saint Valentine and What did he do?


San Valentin (in Italian: San Valentino, Latin: Valentinus), officially San Valentin de Terni, is a widely recognized Roman saint from the third century commemorated on February 14 and since the High Middle Ages is associated with a tradition of courtly love.

All that is known with certainty of the saint commemorated on February 14 is his name and that he was martyred and buried in a cemetery on the Via Flaminia near the Ponte Milvio north of Rome on that day. It is not clear whether Valentine should be identified as a saint or the combination of two saints of the same name. Several different martyrologies have been added to subsequent hagiographies that are not reliable.
Saint Valentine
Because so little is known about him, in 1969 the Catholic Church removed its name from the Roman General Calendar, leaving its liturgical celebration to local calendars. The Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize him as a saint, including him as such at the entrance of February 14 into the Roman Martyrology, and authorizing the liturgical veneration of him on February 14 in any place where that day is not dedicated to some other mandatory celebration in accordance with the rule that on such day the Mass may be that of any saint listed in the Martyrology for that day. The use of the liturgical calendar prior to 1970 is also authorized under the conditions indicated in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007. The Church of Saint Valentine in Rome, built in 1960 for the needs of the Olympic Village, continues as a modern and well-functioning parish. visited Church.

St. Valentine is commemorated in the Anglican Communion, as well as in Lutheranism. February 14 The Book of Lutheran Services, with its penchant for the ancient Roman calendar, commemorates Valentine’s Day on this date. On the part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Valentine the Priest of Rome is celebrated on July 6 and Hieromartyr Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) is celebrated on July 30. However, due to the relative obscurity of these two saints in the East and since there is no commemoration of St. Valentine in the Greek Orthodox Church, members of the Greek Orthodox Church called Valentinos (male) or Valentina (female) can observe their name on the date of the western ecclesiastical calendar of February 14.


The name Valentinus does not appear on the oldest list of Roman martyrs, the Chronograph of 354; although the pattern of the Chronography compilation was a rich Roman Christian named Valentinus. But it is found in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which was compiled between 460 and 544 from previous local sources. The feast of Valentine’s Day of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentin among all those “… whose names are justly revered among men, but whose acts only God knows.” As Gelasius implies, then nothing was known of his life.

The Catholic Encyclopedia and other hagiographic sources speak of three Valentine’s that appear in connection with February 14. One was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy) both buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different distances from the city. It was said that the third was a saint who suffered the same day with several companions in the Roman province of Africa, of which nothing else is known.

Although the existing versions of the martyrdoms of the first two saints listed are late and contain legendary elements, a common core of events can be the basis of the two stories and can refer to a single person. According to the official biography of the Diocese of Terni, Bishop Valentine was born and lived in Interamna and during a temporary stay in Rome he was imprisoned, tortured and martyred there on February 14, 269. His body was hastily buried in a nearby place . the cemetery and a few nights later his disciples recovered his body and returned him home.

The Roman Martyrology, the official list of recognized saints of the Catholic Church, for February 14 gives only one Valentine; a martyr who died on the Via Flaminia.

Other saints with the same name

The name “Valentine” derived from valens (worthy, strong, powerful), was popular in late Antiquity. Around other eleven saints that have the name of Saint Valentine are commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church. Some Eastern churches of the Western rite can provide other different Valentine’s lists. The Roman martyrology lists only seven who died on days other than February 14: a priest from Viterbo (November 3); a bishop of Raetia who died in approximately 470 (January 7); a priest and hermit of the fifth century (July 4); a Spanish hermit who died approximately 715 (October 25); Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24); and Valentín Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936 (September 18). It also lists a virgin, Saint Valentina, who was martyred in 308 (July 25) in Caesarea, Palestine.

Hagiography and testimony

The inconsistency in the identification of the saint is replicated in the various vitae attributed to him.

A common hagiography describes Saint Valentine as a priest of Rome or as the former bishop of Terni, Narnia and Amelia, a city of Umbria, in central Italy. While he was under house arrest of Judge Asterius, and discussing his faith with him, Valentinus (the Latin version of his name) was discussing the validity of Jesus. The judge put Valentinus to the test and brought him the blind daughter adopted by the judge. If Valentinus managed to restore the sight of the girl, Asterius would do what he asked. Valentinus put his hands over his eyes and the vision of the child was restored. Immediately humiliated, the judge asked Valentinus what he should do. Valentino replied that all the idols around the judge’s house should be broken, and that the judge should fast for three days and then undergo baptism. The judge obeyed and, as a result, freed all Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family and his household of forty-four members (family members and servants) were baptized. Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to proselytize and was sent to the prefect of Rome, Emperor Claudius Gothic (Claudius II) himself. Claudio took him affection until Valentino tried to convince Claudio to embrace Christianity, after which Claudio rejected and condemned Valentino to death, ordering Valentin to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded. Valentinus refused and Claudio’s order was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269.

The Legenda Aurea by Jacobus de Voragine, compiled around 1260 and one of the most read books of the High Middle Ages, gives enough details of the saints for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on each occasion. The very brief life of St. Valentine has been executed for refusing to deny Christ by order of “Emperor Claudius” in the year 269. Before they cut off his head, this Valentine restored his sight and heard the daughter of his jailer . Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of “Valentine”, “as containing value”.

A popularly attributed hagiographic identity appears in the Chronicle of Nuremberg (1493). Next to a wooden portrait of Saint Valentine, the text says that it was a martyr Roman priest during the reign of Claudius Gothic. He was arrested and imprisoned when he was caught marrying Christian couples and helping Christians who were then persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudio took a liking to this prisoner. However, when Valentino tried to convert the Emperor, he was sentenced to death. He was beaten with sticks and stones; when that could not kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Several dates are given for martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270 or 273.

There are many other legends behind Valentine’s Day. One is that in the third century AD it is said that Valentine, who was a priest, challenged the order of Emperor Claudius and married secretly so that husbands did not have to go to war. The legend says that soldiers were scarce at this time, so this was a great inconvenience for the emperor. Another legend is that Valentine refused to sacrifice the pagan gods. When imprisoned for this, Valentine gave his testimony in prison and with his prayers healed the daughter of the jailer who was suffering from blindness. On the day of his execution, he left her a note that was signed “Your Valentine”.

Churches called Valentine

Saint Valentine was not exceptionally more venerated than other saints and it seems that in England no church was dedicated to him. There are many churches that contain the name of Valentine in other countries like Italy.

A work of the fifth or sixth century called Passio Marii et Marthae made a legend about the Basilica of Saint Valentine dedicated to Valentine in Rome. A later Passio repeated the legend and added the adornment that Pope Julius I (357-352) had built the old basilica S. Valentini extra Portam on the top of his sepulcher, on Via Flaminia. This church was actually named after a 4th century tribune called Valentino, who donated the land on which it is built. He received the relics of the martyr until the thirteenth century, when they were transferred to Santa Prassede, and the old basilica was decomposed.

Valentine’s Day

18th-century English antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, pointing out the darkness of Valentine’s identity, suggested that Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to replace the pagan festival of Lupercalia (mid-February in Rome). This idea has been ruled out recently by other researchers, such as Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas, Henry Ansgar Kelly of the University of California at Los Angeles and associate professor Michael Matthew Kaylor of Masaryk University. Many of the current legends that characterize St. Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, especially by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the day of the feast of February 14 was associated for the first time with romantic love.

Oruch states that the traditions associated with “Valentine’s Day”, documented in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules and established in the fictional context of an old tradition, did not exist before Chaucer. He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, which is presented as a historical fact, had its origins among eighteenth-century antiquarians, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and who have been perpetuated by even respectable modern scholars . In the fourteenth-century French manuscript illumination of a Vies des Saints (illustration above), Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica in Terni; there is no suggestion here that the bishop was a patron of lovers.

During the Middle Ages, it was believed that birds mated in mid-February. This was later associated with Valentine’s romance. Although all of these legends may differ in forms, Valentine’s Day is widely recognized as a day for romance and devotion.

Relics and liturgical celebration

The supposed skull crowned with flowers of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

The remains of Valentine’s Day are deposited in Madrid. The relics can be found in the church of San Antón, where they are since the late 1700s. They were a gift from the Pope to King Carlos IV, who entrusted them to the Order of the Poor Regular Clerics of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (Escolapios). The relics have been publicly displayed since 1984, in what is now a base open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help people in need.

It is believed that the remains of Valentine’s Day are also found in Dublin. In 1836, some relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of San Hipólito on Via Tiburtina, and then near Rome (instead of inside), were identified with San Valentín; placed in a chest, and transported to the procession to the high altar for a special mass dedicated to young people and all lovers.

Also in 1836, p. John Spratt, an Irish priest and famous preacher, received many signs of esteem after a sermon in Rome. A gift from Pope Gregory XVI were the remains of Valentine’s Day and “a small container dyed with his blood”. The Reliquary was placed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and has remained there to this day. This was accompanied by a letter saying that the relics were those of Valentine’s Day.

Another relic was found in 2003 in Prague in the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vyšehrad.

A silver reliquary containing a fragment of St. Valentine’s skull is found in the parish church of the Assumption of St. Mary in Chelmno, Poland.

The relics can also be found on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Another set of relics can also be found in Savona, in the Cathedral of Santa María Assunta.

The presumed relics of Valentine’s Day are also found in the reliquary of Roquemaure, Gard, France, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, in Balzan, in Malta, and also in the church of Blessed John Duns Scotus, in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland. There is also a gold reliquary with the words “Corpus St. Valentin, M” (St. Valentine’s body, martyr) in Birmingham Oratory, United Kingdom, on one of the side altars of the main church.

St. Valentine remains on the official list of saints of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Martyrology, but, in view of the paucity of information about it, its commemoration was removed from the General Roman Calendar, when it was revised in 1969. It is included in calendars Locals from places like Balzan in Malta. Some traditionalist Catholics observe earlier calendars of the Roman rite, in which St. Valentine was celebrated as a simple feast until 1955, when Pope Pius XII reduced the mention of him to a commemoration at the mass of the day, a position he held in the general The Roman Calendar of 1960 was incorporated in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, use of which, as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is still authorized in accordance with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum 2007 of Pope Benedict XVI.

February 14 is also celebrated as Valentine’s Day in other Christian churches; in the Church of England, for example, it was included in the calendars before the Reformation, and S.Valentine, Bishop and Martyr, was restored to the Calendar of the Church in the Book of Common Prayer of 1661/1662. It remains on the calendars of the Church of England and in most other parts of the Anglican Communion.

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