Saint Valentine's Story

St. Valentine fresco

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Saint Valentine is the patron saint of love. Believers say God worked through his life to perform miracles and teach people how to recognize and experience true love.

This famous saint, an Italian doctor who later became a priest, inspired the creation of the holiday of Valentine's Day. He was sent to jail for performing weddings for couples during a time when new marriages were outlawed in the ancient Rome. Before he was killed for refusing to renounce his faith, he sent a loving note to a child he had been helping to teach, the daughter of his jailer, and that note eventually led to the tradition of sending Valentine's cards.

Lifetime

Birth year unknown, died 270 AD in Italy

Feast Day

February 14th

Patron Saint Of

Love, marriages, engagements, young people, greetings, travelers, bee keepers, people with epilepsy, and numerous churches

Biography

Saint Valentine was a Catholic priest who had also worked as a doctor. He lived in Italy during the third century AD and served as a priest in Rome.

Historians don’t know much about Valentine’s early life. They pick up Valentine’s story after he began working as a priest. Valentine became famous for marrying couples who were in love but couldn’t get legally married in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, who outlawed weddings. Claudius wanted to recruit lots of men to be soldiers in his army and thought that marriage would be an obstacle to recruiting new soldiers. He also wanted to prevent his existing soldiers from getting married because he thought that marriage would distract them from their work.

When Emperor Claudius discovered that Valentine was performing weddings, he sent Valentine to jail. Valentine used his time in jail to continue to reach out to people with the love that he said Jesus Christ gave him for others.

He befriended his jailer, Asterious, 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 material for her to learn it. Valentine became friends with Julia through his work with her when she came to visit him in jail.

Emperor Claudius also came to like Valentine. He offered to pardon Valentine and set him free if Valentine would renounce his Christian faith and agree to worship the Roman gods. Not only did Valentine refuse to leave his faith, he also encouraged Emperor Claudius to place his trust in Christ. Valentine’s faithful choices cost him his life. Emperor Claudius was so enraged at Valentine’s response that he sentenced Valentine to die.

The First Valentine

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.” That note inspired people to begin writing their own loving messages to people on Valentine’s Feast Day, February 14th, which is celebrated on the same day on which Valentine was martyred.

Valentine was beaten, stoned, and beheaded on February 14, 270. People who remembered his loving service to many young couples began celebrating his life, and he came to be regarded as a saint through whom God had worked to help people in miraculous ways. By 496, Pope Gelasius designated February 14th as Valentine’s official feast day.

Famous Miracles of Saint Valentine

The most famous miracle attributed to Saint Valentine involved the farewell note that he sent to Julia. Believers say that God miraculously cured Julia of her blindness so that she could personally read Valentine’s note, rather than just have someone else read it to her.

Throughout the years since Valentine died, people have prayed for him to intercede for them before God about their romantic lives. Numerous couples have reported experiencing miraculous improvements in their relationships with boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses after praying for help from Saint Valentine.