Why do we celebrate Valentines day? The history of St Valentine

Posted on 14 February 2021
By Heidi Hewlings
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For some Valentine’s day is the perfect opportunity to spoil their other half with loving gestures and shower them with sweet nothings.

But for many, the occasion falls short on the list of special dates and is treated like any other day.

Whether you celebrate it or not, the question of why this romantic day exists is something we often find ourselves musing about, while Cupid fires his bows overhead.

February the 14th is etched in the calendar as the date where chocolates, flowers and cards are bought and meals are suddenly ‘cooked with love.’ Are they cooked with nefarious intentions every other day of the year?

Surely not! But why do we put such importance on love around this date in the diary?

These delightful traditions are all in the name of St. Valentine – a priest who came to prominence during the third century in Rome.

It all started when Emperor Claudius II decreed; that single men made better soldiers than those tied down with wives and families. This led him to make marriage for young men illegal.

After realising the injustice of the Emperor’s decision, St. Valentine took a stand and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. However, the Emperor discovered the illicit weddings and put Valentine to death.

According to one legend, Valentine was the first to send a “Valentine” card after he fell in love with a young girl, believed to be his jailer’s daughter, who visited him during his incarceration before his death.

The expression “from your valentine” is alleged to come from him after he wrote a love letter and signed it with this phrase.

As a result of Valentine’s heroic death and romantic reputation, he would become one of the most popular Saints.

Here are some surprising facts about St. Valentine…

The St. Valentine who inspired the annual occasion may have been two different men.

The Roman Catholic Church recognised Valentine as a real person who died around A.D. 270. But Pope Gelasius questioned his true identity and referred to him and his actions as “being known only to God.”

Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers, epileptics, and many other things.

He is called on to watch over the lives of lovers, but also for interventions regarding beekeeping and epilepsy, as well as the plague, fainting and traveling.

He had the power of healing

In one popular legend, Valentine is thought to have cured his Jailer’s daughter of blindness.

Judge Asterius brought his blind daughter to St. Valentine, and asked him to help her see again. Valentine, praying to God, laid his hands on her eyes and the child regained her sight.

He is buried in Dublin

St. Valentine was executed in Rome and buried there in the 3rd century. However, his body was later exhumed and taken to Dublin.

An Irish priest was granted permission to exhume his remains and now his skeleton lies under Whitefriar Church in Dublin.