Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine

3rd century Roman saint
Country: Italy

The Roman Saint of the 3rd century

The Roman Saint of the 3rd century, who has been considered an unofficial patron saint of lovers since the second half of the Middle Ages. The name of Saint Valentine is known to almost everyone, but unfortunately, there is a lack of historical accuracy regarding his image. Little is known about the saint for certain - in fact, reliable information is limited to his name and place of death. Some historians even believe that the image of Saint Valentine merged two Roman saints. Due to this glaring inaccuracy in the name of Saint Valentine, he was not included in the Catholic calendar of saints for a long time. In the early versions of the lists of Roman saints - up until the 4th century AD - the name 'Valentine' is not mentioned at all; it is first mentioned in the 'Martyrologium Hieronymianum', compiled from various sources somewhere between 460 and 544. It was Pope Gelasius I who first associated Valentine's name with February 14th, stating that he is one of those "whose names are revered by people, but whose deeds are known only to God". In the 'Catholic Encyclopedia' and other hagiographic sources, February 14th is associated with three Saint Valentines. One of them was a Roman priest, the other was a bishop of Interamna; both were buried on the Flaminian Way, near Rome. The third Valentine is the least known; based on indirect data, he - along with a group of companions - died a martyr's death in one of the African provinces of Rome.

The exact details of the martyrdom of the first two Valentines were officially recorded much later and contain a considerable amount of mythical elements; however, there are common parts in these legends, which leads some to believe that the bishop and the priest are essentially the same person. In the 'Roman Martyrology' - the official list of saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church - there is only one Valentine mentioned. Some differences can be found in various interpretations of Valentine's story. According to the most well-known version of the legend, Valentine was a Roman priest who became a martyr during the time of Claudius II. The priest was imprisoned for helping Christians, whom Claudius actively persecuted; among other things, Valentine married young Christian couples. It is claimed that initially Claudius and Valentine were on good terms; unfortunately, the priest managed to provoke the emperor's anger by trying to convert him to the true faith. Valentine was sentenced to be beaten with stones; however, the stones had no effect, and the priest had to be beheaded. The exact date of the execution is not mentioned; different sources refer to the years 269, 270, and 273.

In another version, Valentine - the former bishop of Terni - was sentenced to house arrest. The judge who supervised the priest engaged in a religious discussion with him; ultimately, the judge brought his blind adopted daughter to the priest and promised to fulfill any of Valentine's wishes if he could restore the girl's sight. By laying his hands on her, the priest healed the girl - and demanded that the judge demolish all the surrounding pagan idols and be baptized. The judge not only kept his word but also freed all the Christians under his jurisdiction after the baptism. Later, Valentine was arrested again and sent to the emperor himself. As in the first version of the legend, Claudius liked the priest until he started trying to convert him to Christianity; Valentine was sentenced to be beaten with stones and later beheaded. In this version, the date of death is given precisely - Valentine was executed on February 14th, 269.