February’s most famous saint: St Valentine

17C painting by David Tenniers of St Valentine kneeling in supplication

Almost everyone in western culture celebrates Valentine’s Day, though unfortunately without considering the fact that he was a saint. While there is a paucity of factual information about St. Valentine, we do know that he was born in third century Rome and was martyred after refusing to denounce his Catholic faith. It’s likely the association between the saint and courtly love occurred as a result of baptizing the pagan holiday, Lupercalia, in the eighteenth century.  Because his feast day is celebrated on February 14, that is what unofficially made St. Valentine the patron saint of happy marriages, engaged couples, young people, and love.

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