This custom began in Europe during the High Middle Ages, the pinnacle of the age of courtly love, and is captured in immemorial English literature as the mid-Feburary day when birds (and lovers) first begin to pair: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” ~Chaucer The High Middle Ages is called “High” because it was the golden age of the Roman Catholic Church and the peak of faith among the European people. According to tradition, Valentine was a Roman priest who was tortured and killed for his commitment to continue officiating sacramental marriages after the Emperor passed an unjust law outlawing wedlock.
The liturgical calendar of saints and their feast days were a commonly celebrated part of everyday life. Because Valentine was martyred for helping lovers to marry in secret, his intercession was called upon by lovers and engaged and married couples after his entrance into eternal life.
One can imagine some combination of a cherubic Cupid and a saintly old man with a nice smile fulfilling that role. First of all, there was more than one Saint Valentine. That would be the life of Saint Valentine of Rome who, far from being lucky in love on February 14th, was beheaded. However, it's likely that the stories of several Valentines merged into one as 'Valentius' (meaning 'worthy,' 'strong' and 'powerful' in Latin) was a popular moniker at the time. The church itself has some doubts about what specifically happened in Saint Valentine’s life. Valentine as a martyr like those 'whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.' Gelasius I understood how little was known about the saint when establishing February 14th as the day to celebrate Valentine’s life. Valentine of Rome was supposedly a temple priest who was executed near Rome by the anti-Christian Emperor Claudius II. Helping Roman soldiers to marry when they were forbidden to by the Christian faith at the time. Valentine of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy) was a bishop who was also martyred. The martyr refused, so the emperor ordered him beaten with clubs and stones, and subsequently executed him. Valentines are thought to be buried in a cemetery in the north of Rome.
Little is known about the third Valentine in North Africa other than his supposed martyrdom.
This means not just preparation for parties, celebrations and family gatherings, but preparing for the Incarnation, the birth of the Christ child, Jesus.
His birth ushered in a new era of salvation and solidified our redemption.
How did we go from Christian martyrs to Hallmark cards?
When Pope Gelasius I dedicated February 14th to the saint and martyr Valentine, he chose that date to replace the traditional Roman feast Lupercalia, a pagan festival popular at the time.
Don’t forget a faith-filled gift for your special Valentine today, and pray this prayer to the patron saint of lovers: Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens, Giver of Love and Passion, And He who strings the heart’s cords, Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.
The day during the month of two, When the date is the perfect number of God Greater two souls and two hearts.
He was arrested, and while in prison he restored sight to his jailer’s blind daughter, causing the jailer and his entire extended household, forty-six people in total, to immediately convert to Christianity.
Upon hearing this, Claudius ordered Valentine’s execution. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended, and signed it “From Your Valentine.” He was beheaded on February 14th.
Holy Mother Church protects, guides, and transmits the truth of the beauty of this sacrament.