Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Valentine (d. 269)

Saint Valentine (d. 269)

Patron saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, and love

Feast day: February 14

Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome. He helped prisoners who were awaiting martyrdom during the persecution under Claudius II. During his ministry, he was seized and ordered to deny his faith in Christ. Valentine refused and was sentenced to be beaten and beheaded on February 14.

There are many legends that have come down to us about Saint Valentine. One is that he secretly performed Christian weddings for couples so that the husbands would not be conscripted into the Roman army. To remind these young men of their wedding vows, Valentine cut hearts from parchment and gave them to these newly married Christians, thus linking the symbol of the heart to his feast day.

Another legend is that he wrote encouraging notes to Christians during his imprisonment, leading to the exchange of cards in his memory. Again, another legend has it that Valentine healed his jailer’s daughter of blindness, and on the day of his execution, he wrote her a note that was signed “Your Valentine.”  

It seems rather strange that a martyr would be so well known on a day devoted to love. He has certainly captured the world’s imagination since his death so many centuries ago!  It is fitting, though, that a man who loved and cherished Christ and his faith enough to die for them is entwined with a day dedicated to love, friendship, and devotion.

(Image by blackfish, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)