Saint Valentine

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Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several Martyred Saints of ancient Rome. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or two or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969 . Traditional Roman Catholics continue to venerate St. Valentine on his feast day, February 14.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Valentine the Presbyter, is celebrated on 6 July, and Hieromartyr Saint Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) is celebrated on 30 July.

The name "Valentine" does not occur in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, which was compiled by the Chronographer of 354. The feast of St. Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." As Gelasius implied, nothing was known, even then, about the lives of any of these martyrs. The Saint Valentine that appears in various martyrologies in connection with 14 February is described either as:

  • A priest in Rome
  • A bishop of Interamna (modern Terni)
  • A martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity.

Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.

The official Roman Martyrology for February 14 mentions only one Saint Valentine.

English eighteenth-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested Valentine's Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia. This idea has lately been contested by Professor Jack Oruch of the University of Kansas. Many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.

While a Website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and other sources give different lists of Saint Valentines, the Catholic Church's official list of recognized saints, the Roman Martyrology lists seven: a martyr (Roman priest or Terni bishop?) buried on the Via Flaminia
(February 14), a priest from Viterbo (November 3), a bishop from Raetia who died in about 450 (January 7), a fifth-century priest and hermit (July 4), a Spanish hermit who died in about 715 (October 25), Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24) and Valentine Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936 (September 18).

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