This adorable cherub is not St. Valentine. We actually don’t know a lot about the patron saint of lovers. We do know that he was martyred during the Roman persecutions, and the government did not keep very exact records while they were slaughtering hundreds of Christians. According to tradition, Valentine was a priest and a physician who performed many miraculous healings before he was beheaded in 268 during the reign of Claudius the Goth. His feast day has been kept on February 14 since ancient times.
And there’s the connection to lovers: Valentine’s Day falls right in the middle of a traditional 3-day Roman festival of Lupercalia when pagans celebrated the coming of spring and with it the urge to mate.
By the Middle Ages Lupercalia was ancient history and February 14 was all about lovers exchanging tokens of affection. The Victorians built on that with their beautiful greeting cards. We can also thank them for the chocolates.
This is a relic of St. Valentine on display in Dublin where the Carmelites have a shrine dedicated to the patron saint of lovers. http://www.carmelites.ie/stvalentine.html
But don't think that martyrdom is a thing of the past. Next post I'll tell you something about today's martyrs.