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Article Info:
published: 3/17/04
updated: 8/14/14

Saint Valentine

Who was Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine, after whom Valentine’s Day was established, was a Christian that live in Rome approximately two centuries after Christ. Saint Valentine is commemorated on February 14 in the Roman Catholic tradition, which is the traditional date of his death. This feast was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I. The Eastern Orthodox tradition commemorates Valentine on July 6.

Unverifiable stories surround the legacy of Saint Valentine. According to the records of the early church, there appear to have been at least three “Saint Valentines” in the church during the third century. Little is known of any of those "Saint Valentines" that lived in the third century and some speculate the legend may be a composite of multiple Saint Valentines. The Catholic Church removed Saint Valentine from formal, annual commemoration in the 20th century because of how little information about him there is; however, he is still celebrated locally in Italy on February 14. {1} His legacy associated with love developed nearly a millennium after he lived.

Some historians speculate that the establishment of Valentine’s Day was an attempt to oppress the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which occurred in Rome in the middle of February. Others believe Valentine’s Day was established in the 14th century in England by, among others, the Catholic writer Geoffrey Chaucer, which is when the day became associated with romantic love. {2}

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  • Calendarium Romanum Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 117

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