The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.
According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. The Saint Valentine prayer asks Saint Valentine to connect lovers together, so that two become one, and the couple remembers their devotion to God.
The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.
Valentine’s Week, Valentinus, St Valentine, Saint Valentine, Valentine Festival, Rome