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The History of Valentine’s Day and Saint Valentine

By Katie Beckmann, Communications Manager

Valentine’s Day is known to some as a “Hallmark holiday” or a day full of expensive meals and gifts, but to most, it’s a day to celebrate love.

Saint Valentine

Whether it be the love of a partner, family member, or friend, Valentine’s Day is a day to love, cherish, and appreciate each other.

While people across the world will celebrate Valentine’s Day, many may not be aware of the origin of this holiday, and that there is a Saint Valentine. There were reportedly multiple Valentines that have been recognized by the Church as the official Saint Valentine. (1)

One report shows that one of Valentine’s served as a priest during the third century in Rome. During this time, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men and decided that they were meant to be soldiers. When Valentine learned of this, he was outraged and continued to perform marriages for young men and women in secret. Valentine’s actions were eventually discovered, and Claudius II ordered his death. (2)

Another story of a different Valentine reported that he was a bishop of Terni, Italy, and was also ordered to death by Claudius II. (3)

While the reports on which Valentine is the real Saint Valentine may vary, it is more certain that the reason why Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th is that it is the date of his death or burial. (4)

Pope Gelasius I first established the Feast of Saint Valentine on February 14th in 496. Eventually, this day would be celebrated as a day of romance since the 14th century. (5)

Saint Valentine would eventually become known as the Patron Saint of love and many Catholics today follow the Saint Valentine prayer which, “asks Saint Valentine to connect lovers together, so that two become one, and the couple remembers their devotion to God.” (5)


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