Someone you should know (history edition): St. Valentine

For many couples, one of the most romantic dates on the calendar is February 14, Valentine’s Day.  However, not many may know the origin or significance of the day they celebrate.

According to Father Leopold Glueckert, Valentine’s Day has a specific connection to the Carmelites, as the saint who gives his name to the occasion is reputedly buried in a Carmelite Church – Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland.

According to legend (as recalled by Fr. Leopold) the man named Valentine, who was born in Terni, Italy,  helped Christian couples get married in secret,  at a time when Christianity was not yet accepted in the Roman Empire.

He eventually was caught, but before he was beheaded by order of the Emperor Claudius II, he was involved in curing a young girl with no sight.

Hearing of Valentine’s imprisonment, and knowing of his sanctity, the blind girl’s father asked Valentine to help cure his daughter’s sight.  Valentine used his medical knowledge to give her ointments. Then, the day before he was beheaded, he sent the girl a note with a crocus flower in it as a sign of his concern for her.  When the girl opened the note, the first thing she saw was the colors of the flower.  Whether it was a result of the ointments Valentine had prescribed, or a miraculous result of his prayer, somehow her sight was restored.

St. Valentine died a martyr on February 14, 269 A.D .

In February, the church wanted to Christianize an ancient Roman pagan festival called Lupercalia, which centered around fertility and purification and also took place in February.  Valentine’s feast day replaced that pagan festival for Christians, and is celebrated to this day as an occasion to express love.