Celebrated on February 14th
wo early Christian martyrs called Valentine are listed on this day in the Roman Martyrology. One was a Roman priest, who died for his faith on the Flaminian Way under Claudius. The other was a bishop of Terni who was killed in Rome. Some historians believe they are the same person.
There is no evidence to link the tradition of sending Valentine cards with the saint - but according to legend, St Valentine sent a farewell message to his jailer’s daughter the day before he was executed, signed ‘from your Valentine’. Some believe the custom grew out of an ancient idea that birds are supposed to begin their courtship on this day. Others point to the fact that the old Roman Lupercalia festival (in honour of the god of fertility, Lupercus) was held around the middle of February.
The idea of sending cards and love letters on February 14 is at least as old as Chaucer and was mentioned in the 15th century Paston family letters. There are no churches in England dedicated to St Valentine but churches in Ireland and Scotland have links with the saint.
In 1836, some relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, then near Rome, were identified with Saint Valentine. These relics were placed in a casket, donated by Pope Gregory XVI, and transported to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin. The parish has special St Valentine’s Masses and a blessing of rings ceremony.
The Franciscan church of Blessed John Duns Scotus in Glasgow is also said to have relics of St Valentine.
Valentine is the patron of engaged couples, happy marriages, beekeepers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.