St. Valentine Day Who was St. Valentine and what is the real story, facts and history behind February 14?

Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? Well, maybe not.

The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday—St. Valentine.

St. Valentine Day Who was St. Valentine and what is the real story, facts and history behind February 14?

“He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. ” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

The St Valentine that inspired the holiday may have been more than one man.

The saint officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church was a real person who died around AD 270.

St. Valentine Day Who was St. Valentine and what is the real story, facts and history behind February 14?

An account from 1400s describes Valentine as a priest who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed.

The emperor had banned marriage as he thought single men made better soldiers.

Valentine felt this was unfair so he celebrated marriages in secret.

When the emperor found out he was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.

St. Valentine the international man of mystery

He may also have been Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome.

There are similarities between the priest’s and bishop’s stories, which leads people to believe they are the same man.

There’s so much confusion around St Valentine that the Church stopped veneration of him in 1969 – though he is still listed as an official saint.

“Valentinus” is from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful, and was a popular name between the second and eighth centuries AD meaning there are several martyrs with the same name.

There are actually a dozen Valentines listed and there’s even a Pope Valentine.

The actual day we celebrate is known as St Valentine of Rome to set him apart.

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