Saint Valentine
Terni, Italy. Statue of Saint Valentine in the basilica dedicated to the patron saint of lovers. Valentine’s day. (Photo: Stefania Valvola /

Valentine’s Day

By Andrea Wright

The roots of Valentine’s Day date back to the year 496, when Pope Gelasius, proclaimed that February 14th would be the feast day of St. Valentine of Rome. Valentine’s Day is also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine.  The Romans had a festival called Lupercalia, which was an order of Roman priests that took place in the middle of February which was the start of their springtime. It honored one or two early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The name Valentine comes from the Latin Valentinus, which derives from Valens meaning, “To be strong, powerful, and mighty.” During that time, Valentine’s Day was not associated with flowers, chocolates, and gifts. 

Officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, St. Valentine is known to be a real person, who died around A.D. 270. One account Valentine was a priest who was beaten, stoned, and beheaded on February 14th, near Rome by Emperor Claudius II for marrying Roman soldiers and Christian couples that were in love. Valentine, the priest defied the emperor by secretly performing marriage ceremonies for Roman soldiers. Emperor Claudius II had a ban on marriage and wanted to recruit lots of men in his army and thought that marriage would be an obstacle. As the legend goes, Valentine was imprisoned in the home of a noble and then sent to jail. Valentine used his time in jail to continue to reach out to people with love. He said that he was blessed by Jesus Christ. While in jail he befriended his jailer, who became so impressed with Valentine’s wisdom that he asked Valentine to help his daughter, Julia, with her lessons. Julia was blind and needed someone to read to her. Valentine and Julia became friends and he read to her when she came to visit him in jail. Before he was killed, Valentine wrote a last note to encourage Julia to stay close to Jesus and to thank her for being his friend. He signed the note: “From your Valentine.”  Believers say that God miraculously cured Julia of her blindness so that she could personally read Valentine’s note. Either way, this was an act of treason against the decree and angered the emperor, who beheaded Valentine on February 14th. His beheading occurred around the same time as the celebration of Lupercalia, which caused the two to become associated with one another. 

Another legend was a priest named Valentine who owned a beautiful garden where the children would come to play. One day, the priest was imprisoned for life. The priest could not forget the children, so he sent a white dove with a message to the children. He told the children that he loved them and sent the key to the garden so the children could continue to play there. 

The celebration of Valentine’s Day has increased in popularity throughout the 19th century. Now today, there are approximately over 1 billion Valentine’s cards handed out. Once the Industrial Revolution’s printing press came into being the card industry took off. According to, Esther A. Howland, from Worchester Massachusetts, (known as “Mother of the Valentine”) began selling the first mass-produced cards (paper-laced valentines) in America in the 1840s and to the Hallmark Card Company in 1913. 

On Valentine’s Day, the white dove represents the symbol of love because they mate for life. Doves have become a universal symbol of peace. Believing that peace and love need to be spread around and celebrated every day, we need to be compassionate and show kindness. The white dove is also the symbol of the Holy Spirit as per Christianity. From it states that St. Valentine is the patron saint of love. He is also the patron saint of beekeepers and protects those who are beekeepers. 

There are many verses in the bible about love. The best way to celebrate Valentine’s is to remember the love of God. Love is best seen by Jesus on the cross. Love is more than feelings; it is action–feelings come and go. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends […]”

Corinthians 13:13  

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

John 3:16  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

We may not be certain about the origins and history of Valentine’s Day, but this day is purely for the celebration of love and has its roots in a spiritual connection. So, on Valentine’s Day express your love for your family, friends, farmers, and ranchers.

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