Saint of Love: The History of Valentine’s DayThe popular tradition of expressing love and affection in honor of the Saint of love, St. Valentine began back in the Middle Ages. During this time, in the countries of France and England, it was commonly believed that birds began seeking their mate in the early spring, and specifically on the 14th of February. The famous English writer Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about this in his poem, “Parliament of Foules” — written in old English.
The Saint of Love
The Holy Roman Catholic Church recognizes one St Valentine as a real person who lived around 270. A.D. The existence of this specific character has been questioned as far back as 496 A.D. by Pope Gelasius, who said that the words and the acts of this person were known only to God.
In one story that dates back to the 1400s, St. Valentine is referred to as a priest who was put to death sometime during the early Roman Empire for the crime of conducting wedding ceremonies.
Considering the vast amount of confusion and doubt that exists around the story of St. Valentine, the Catholic church dismissed this character from their list of venerated saints, although he does continue to remain the record as an officially recognized saint.
Many Valentine'sSt. Valentine that we honor on St. Valentine’s Day, the 14th of February, is officially known as St. Valentine of Rome so that he is not confused with many of the other St. Valentines. This is because “Valentinus” — which means powerful or strong in the Original Latin— was a very common name back in the early 2nd to 8th centuries.
Several martyrs had this name and therefore, many of the saints from this early time also carried this name. As a matter of fact, there are well over a dozen venerated saints on the roster of saints that have the name Valentine, or some variation of this name.
The most recent St Valentine to join the roster of saints, through the process of beatification is named Berrio-Ochoa, a Spaniard who traveled to Vietnam in the early 19th century and there served as a Bishop.
He was beheaded in 1861, and in 1988 Pope John Paul officially canonized Berrio-Ochoa. There was also a Pope named Valentine, but little is known of him as he served a very short term as pope, only 40 days in the year 827.
St.Valentine Patron Saint of Many Things
In addition to being called in to watch over the affairs of lovers, St. Valentine is also petitioned for help in inventions, beekeeping, and the challenges of epilepsy.
Other conditions that are addressed by St. Valentine include plague, fainting, and traveling. As you may imagine, St. Valentine is also the patron saint of happy couples.
St. Valentine's Skull
You can visit the St. Valentine's shrine and see his flower-adorned skull yourself. This sacred artifact is on display near the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.
These remains were taken from a catacomb in Rome. As was customary at the time, these remains were distributed across the network of churches and can be found in reliquaries from the Czech Republic to Latin America.
The English Poet Geoffrey Chaucer
The Saint of Love, St. Valentine is the star of Valentine's day but many experts believe that the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer is responsible for the invention of Valentine’s Day.
It is widely believed that the writer was given to adding some personal scope to history. No mention of Valentine’s Day exists before his poem “Parliament of Foules.”
Within this poem, he recounts a love tradition marked by a festive celebration occurring on Valentine's Day. In his words, the 14th of February becomes a day when both humans and birds unite in search of a companion.