Gardening Tips and Highlights

The legends of St. Valentine

by Christine Yesko


Many people know that February has been celebrated as a month of romance and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius 11 decided that single men made better soldiers with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.  For this, he was ordered to be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. One legend has Valentine himself imprisoned where he fell in love with a young girl, who visited him in prison. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” which is an expression that is still used today.

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial, others claim that the Christian Church may have decided to place the feast day in the middle to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival. It was outlawed deemed un-Christian at the end of the 5th century.


During the middle ages, it was commonly believed in France that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the day should be a day of romance. Valentine greetings were popular as far as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. Source: