According to the Catholic Church, there were several saints in the ancient world called Valentine.
The Saint Valentine with whom we associate Valentine’s Day was a Catholic priest who lived in the 3rd Century in Rome.
At this time Rome was the most powerful nation in the world and was ruled by Emperor Claudius II. Claudius and most Romans were pagans, but more and more citizens were converting to Christianity, much to the dismay of the Emperor.
The various legends of St Valentine
There are several legends associated with St Valentine and how he came to be sainted. One story says that Valentine was called before Emperor Claudius and refused to give up his Christianity to become a pagan.
Another story is that Valentine was secretly marrying Christian couples, a practice which had been outlawed by the Emperor.
Whatever the reason, Saint Valentine was executed on 14 February in the year 270. It is said that prior to his execution, St Valentine had cured the blindness of his jailor’s daughter and his final act was to write her a love message signed ‘from your valentine’.
St Valentine is established as a Saint
Whatever the legends, we can be certain that St Valentine did exist as archaeologists have uncovered a Roman church dedicated to him.
St Valentine is on the Catholic Church’s official list of saints, although because of the uncertainty about who St Valentine really was.
He no longer appears on the General Catholic Calendar of Saints.