A man named Valentinus was martyred on February 14 at the end of the third century AD. C., this is what we know.
But when it comes to details about the life of St. Valentine, the legend often replaces the facts. As you celebrate this Valentine’s Day, discover the truth about the man by which the day is called, as well as some other interesting facts about the most romantic holidays in history.
1. The Valentine that inspired the holidays could have been two different men.
Recognized officially by the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Valentine is known to be a real person who died around the year 270. However, his true identity was already questioned in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who referred to the martyr and his acts as “Being known only by God.” A 1400 account describes Valentine as a temple priest who was beheaded near Rome by Emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples marry. A different account states that Valentine was the bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome. Due to the similarities of these accounts, it is believed that they can refer to the same person. Enough confusion surrounds the true identity of St. Valentine that the Catholic Church ceased to worship him liturgically in 1969, although his name remains on his list of officially recognized saints.
2. In total, there are about a dozen of Valentines, plus a Pope.
The saint that we celebrate on Valentine’s Day is officially known as Valentine’s Day in Rome in order to differentiate it from the dozen or so other Valentines on the list. Because “Valentinus” – from the Latin word for dignified, strong or powerful – was a popular nickname between the 2nd and 8th centuries AD, several martyrs throughout the centuries have taken this name. The official list of Catholic saints shows a dozen people named as Valentine or some variation of them. The most recently beatified Valentine is San Valentín de Berrio-Ochoa, a Spaniard of the order of the Dominicans who traveled to Vietnam, where he served as bishop until his beheading in 1861. Pope John Paul II canonized Berrio-Ochoa in 1988. even a Pope Valentine, although little is known about him, except that he served barely 40 days around 827 AD.
3. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy, among many other things.
No doubt the saints are expected to remain busy in the afterlife. His sacred duties include interceding in earthly affairs and entertaining petitions of living souls. In this sense, St. Valentine has extensive spiritual responsibilities. People call to monitor the lives of lovers, of course, but also for interventions regarding beekeeping and epilepsy, as well as plague, fainting and travel. As expected, he is also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.
4. You can find the Valentine skull in Rome.
The skull decorated with Valentine flowers is on display at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. In the early 1800s, the excavation of a catacomb near Rome produced skeletal remains and other relics now associated with Saint Valentine. As usual, these fragments of the body of the late saint have been subsequently distributed to reliquaries throughout the world. You will find other fragments of the Valentine skeleton on display in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England and France.
5. Chaucer may have invented Valentine’s Day.
The medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer often took liberties with history, placing his poetic characters in fictitious historical contexts that he represented as real. There is no record of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day before a poem by Chaucer wrote around 1375. In his work “Parliament of Foules“, which links a love tradition cuts with the celebration of the day to a party of the association of Valentine’s that did not exist until after his poem received wide attention. The poem refers to February 14 as the day when birds (and humans) come together to find a mate. When Chaucer wrote, “because this was sent on the day of Seynt Valentyne / Whan every fault comes to choose his partner”, he may have invented the vacation we know today.
6. You can celebrate Valentine’s Day several times a year.
Due to the abundance of St. Valentines on the list of Catholics, you can choose to celebrate the saint several times a year. In addition to February 14, you may decide to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Viterbo on November 3. Or maybe you want to take a leap in the traditional Valentines celebration with Raetia’s Valentine on January 7th. Women could choose to honor the only woman Valentine (Valentina), a virgin martyr in Palestine on July 25, AD 308. The Eastern Orthodox Church officially celebrates Valentine’s Day twice, once as an elder of the church on the 6th of July and once as a martyr on July 30.