Love is in the air! 💘

Regardless of religious beliefs, millions of people around the world do something romantic for their beloved every year on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14).

But how much do you really know about the real St. Valentine?

Here’s the first thing to know: there are at least three St. Valentines – all of them martyrs – who have been remembered on Feb. 14.

The name ‘Valentine’ comes from the Latin word valens, which means “strong” or “powerful,” and many people in the ancient world had that name.

St. Valentine of Rome was the earliest of the three. He was a priest in Rome, martyred in A.D. 269, and buried near the Via Flaminia. That’s pretty much all we know about him.

Here’s a photo of his skull:

Dnalor 01, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT, Wikimedia Commons

Another one that lived right around the time of the first was St. Valentine of Terni (or Interamna). He was a bishop from central Italy and was martyred in A.D. 273. He was also buried near the Via Flaminia.

The third St. Valentine was martyred with a group of companions in Africa at some point in the early Church.

Pope Galesius added “St. Valentine” to the liturgical calendar in A.D. 496. It may have been St. Valentine of Rome, or some combination of the three (the lives of saints with the same name sometimes blur together).

However, at least 11 more St. Valentines came later, but the Church does not remember them on February 14th.

But what about the stories about St. Valentine marrying soldiers in secret or writing love letters? These stories all came centuries later, and most historians do not consider them reliable. They may be based on some truth, but it’s hard to really know.

In fact, this is why the Church did not include St. Valentine’s feast on General Roman Calendar in its 1969 revision:

“Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.”

Today, Feb. 14 in the General Roman Calendar is the feast of Ss. Cyril and Methodius.

Of course, since the feast of St. Valentine was on the 1962 liturgical calendar, Feb. 14 remains St. Valentine’s Day in the Extraordinary Form.

Even if we don’t know much about them, we can still ask:

All St. Valentines, please pray for us! ❤️🙏❤️

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[See also: Lucy of Narnia Was a REAL Saint? Yep, and She Had a Miraculous Life]

[See also: 13 Saint Quotes that Reveal the Mystical Nature of the Mass]

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