Although there were several Saint Valentines, the common biography (hagiography – I learned a new word!) describes Saint Valentine as either a priest of Rome or the Bishop of Terni, a town in central Italy.

There are many legends ascribed to Saint Valentine. In one, dated from the 3rd century AD, Valentine defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly performed Christian weddings (not Roman) for couples. This allowed the husbands to escape conscription into the Roman army. As soldiers were in short supply at that time, this was a thorn in the side of Claudius. It is said that to “remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine cut hearts out of parchment”, sending them to the Christians, who were persecuted at that time. So this is a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day.

Another legend claims that while St. Valentine was under house arrest by a certain Judge Asterius, he discussed the validity of Jesus’ existence faith with the judge. The judge put Valentinus (his Roman name) to the test, brought him his adopted blind daughter, and told him if Valentinus could restore her sight, the judge would do whatever he asked. Valentinus, praying to God, put her hands on her eyes and the child’s vision was restored.

 In return, Valentinus asked that all of the Roman idols in the judge’s house be broken and that the judge should fast for three days and then be baptized. The judge did that, then freed all the Christians jailed under his authority, and Valentine then baptized the judge, his family, and his entire household.

Valentinus continued evangelizing, and eventually, Emperor Claudius had him arrested and brought to Rome.  Claudius took a liking to him until Valentinus tried to convince Claudius to become Christian. This was possibly the last straw because Claudius refused and condemned Valentinus to death, commanding that Valentinus renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and then beheaded. Valentinus of course refused and was executed in Rome, outside the Flaminian Gate in the Aurelian Walls, on February 14, 269.

Another legend from the time of his execution claims that Saint Valentine wrote a note to Asterius’s daughter signed “from your Valentine”, which may or may not have inspired the romantic messages of Valentine’s Day.

The Feast of Saint Valentine, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honor of Valentine’s martyrdom.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Saint Valentine and me!




  1. I’ve heard a combination of all these legends mixed together, but enjoyed reading them again.
    Great post, Noelle. I hope you and your hubby had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

    1. He had to work – so I spent the evening alone, trying to figure out the mechanism of buying him a late night meal (prime rib) via Door Dash. We only have one car, so I am stuck when he’s at work. I was asleep when he got home but he said the meal was great (he does like his meat!).

  2. Fascinating. And what a history, Noelle, whichever Valentinus it was who became the saint of love. I hope you and yours had a wonderful day full of the joys and affection of love. Hugs, my friend.

    1. Gene was working that night but I ordered him a steak dinner for when I got home (I am usually asleep by then!) Hope yours was terrific too – flowers? candy?

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