The History of Valentine’s Day: Who was St. Valentine?

The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery. While every February 14, Valentine’s Day, couples send romantic Valentines, no one knows the true history of Valentine’s Day. Many believe the history of Valentine’s Day can be found in the question, “Who was Saint Valentine?”

The Roman Catholic Church has three saints named Valentine, or Valentinus. Of these three, the history of Valentine’s Day supposedly honors the first Saint Valentine. So, who was Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine was a third-century priest in Rome. He was martyred. Any further answer to, “Who was Saint Valentine?,” is speculation. Yet, there are three theories about the history of Valentine’s Day. Each attempts to answer, “Who was Saint Valentine?”

Who Was Saint Valentine? A Priest Marrying Couples.

According to this theory on the history of Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine was a priest during Emperor Claudius II’s reign. Because Claudius II believed single men were better soldiers than married men, he outlawed marriage for young men. Saint Valentine did not adhere to Claudius II’s proclamation, however, and continued to perform marriages in secret. When he was discovered, Saint Valentine was imprisoned and sentenced to death.

Who Was Saint Valentine? A Priest Freeing Christians.

Another theory about the history of Valentine’s Day contends that Saint Valentine was sentenced to death for free Christians from Roman prisons. This is the least romantic history of Valentine’s Day, but it portrays Saint Valentine as a heroic and strong figure.

Who Was Saint Valentine? The First Valentine.

According to this romantic theory of the history of Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine sent the first valentine. He supposedly fell in love while imprisoned. Perhaps it was the jailor’s daughter who he loved. Whoever the lady was, he sent her a letter signed, “From your Valentine.”

The truth is, no one can answer, “Who was Saint Valentine?” Since it remains unknown, the question for today is not, “Who was Saint Valentine?” Rather the question is, “Who is Saint Valentine now?”

Whoever he was, Saint Valentine is remembered as a strong, heroic and romantic figure. It is no wonder lovers have been sending love letters in his name, as valentines, ever since the Middle Ages.


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