ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Who was Saint Valentine? -- Why is Valentine’s Day About Love?

Updated on December 13, 2017
TeriSilver profile image

Teri Silver is a journalist, commercial copywriter, editor, broadcast anchor, and Public Relations Specialist.

Valentine in Glass
Valentine in Glass | Source

Valentine's Day

February 14th … Valentine’s Day … is about love, romance, affection and friendship. Children celebrate with candy “conversation” hearts, school parties and “penny” valentine cards. Adults often celebrate Valentine’s Day with special dinners, flowers, plush animals, candy, perfume, jewelry and other types of romantic gifts.

No matter how you do it, celebrate Valentine’s Day in style! But who was Valentine and why does he represent a day of love and romance?

Valentine -- Who?

The General Roman Calendar describes which “feast” days are assigned liturgical celebrations to honor saints and other people who are specially recognized by the Catholic Church. As far as Valentine’s Day goes, the question of who was the actual “Saint Valentine” for which the holiday is named is a tough one to answer because there were several “Saint Valentines.”

St. Valentine
St. Valentine

Historical Beliefs

Historians think that in ancient Rome, sometime between 495 and 500 A.D., Pope Gelasius I established a feast celebration day on February 14th to honor Valentine of Rome; a priest who was martyred around the time of 269 A.D. and buried on Via Flaminia (a road leading from Rome, over the Apennine Mountains and bordering the coast of the Adriatic Sea). However, martyred Bishop Valentine of Terni (circa 197 A.D.) is also buried on a separate area of Via Flaminia, and according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there is a third Saint Valentine. This man, along with several companions, was martyred in Africa but no further information is known about him.

Saint Valentine receives a rosary from The Virgin; by David Teniers III
Saint Valentine receives a rosary from The Virgin; by David Teniers III | Source

For the Sake of Love

In the Nuremberg Chronicle (created in 1493; a compilation of the world’s human history as it is defined in the bible), the first description of Saint Valentine says that he was caught marrying Christian couples who were being persecuted by Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius fought many wars during his regime (circa 269, 270 A.D) and had difficulty keeping soldiers in his ranks.

Thinking that men who were married would not become soldiers, Claudius banned marriages and engagements in Rome. Priest Valentine was concerned; if men and women did not get married, they would live together anyway and that, in the eyes of the church, would be a sinful act. Valentine, sympathetic to the romantic pining of men and women, married them in secret. When the criminal secret was discovered, Valentine was arrested and brought to Emperor Claudius who wanted him to renounce Christianity and become loyal to the Roman regime. When Valentine refused to deny his beliefs, he was sent to prison. While awaiting his execution, Priest Valentine wrote letters to his friends asking them to “Remember your Valentine” in their prayers.

Saint Valentine Baptizing St. Lucilla by Jacopo Bassano; 1500s
Saint Valentine Baptizing St. Lucilla by Jacopo Bassano; 1500s


A “martyr” is a person who chooses to suffer or die rather than renounce his beliefs. The official Roman Martyrology, a list of saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, mentions only one Saint Valentine. Valentine’s feast day of February 14th remained on the Liturgical Calendar of Saints until, because of the lack of proven historical evidence, it was removed in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. However, some Catholics still celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day as a religious holiday.

Valentine -- Why?

Why is Valentine’s Day about romance? One legend has it that the date of Saint Valentine’s martyrdom, February 14th, became a day to “symbolize” love and romance when Pope Gelasius entered the feast celebration on the General Roman Calendar. This made February 14th a religious observation; thus ending otherwise pagan celebrations of Saint Valentine, the man who had become popular as the “patron saint of love.”

Another legend has it that while Valentine was imprisoned, children and adults alike would show affection for him by tossing flowers and notes through the window bars of the jail cell. And yet another legend has it that Valentine prayed for a miracle to restore the sight of a blind girl, the jailer’s daughter. During this time, Valentine and the girl became friends --- the priest signed a “farewell” message to her, which said “from your Valentine.”

Valentine Rescues Silvia (in William Shakespeare’s) 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona.' Painting by Angelica Kauffman; 1789
Valentine Rescues Silvia (in William Shakespeare’s) 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona.' Painting by Angelica Kauffman; 1789 | Source

Valentines in Art and Literature

Valentine’s Day is depicted in many early forms of literature. Examples include a 14th century poem written by English poet-writer Geoffrey Chaucer, who used imagery of mating birds as symbols of love and lovers to honor the upcoming wedding of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia.

A few hundred years later, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act IV, Scene 5, published circa 1601), Ophelia, in her madness, sings to the king and queen, “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day, all in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, to be your Valentine.” In other writings and depictions, Cupid, the Roman mythological god of affection and erotic love, is a cherubic angel whose romantic image is associated with Valentine’s Day; shooting arrows into the hearts of those who fall in love. Cupid’s romantic image is portrayed in valentine drawings throughout the ages.

The Business of Valentines

Over time, exchanging gifts and hand-made cards of ribbon and lace on Valentine’s Day became popular in Europe. In the 1840s, the tradition of exchanging colorful heart-shaped cards led to commercial production of valentines in the United States.

Today, Valentine’s Day is a huge commercial enterprise for global companies that produce greeting cards, candy, flowers, jewelry, clothing and “romantic” gifts for adults and teens. Valentines are readily available for children, too; from the “penny” valentines with basic artwork and friendship messages to those that are licensed through major companies (such as Disney and Mattel, for example) which use their products’ popularity to gear sales specifically to kids.

From Your Valentine

When you “remember your Valentine” on Valentine’s Day, whether by giving your sweetheart a gift of red roses, chocolates, a card, diamonds, intimate clothing or any other “token of romance,” you are participating in a tradition that is more than 1500 years old … the declaration of love!

© 2014 Teri Silver

What is your favorite Valentine's Day tradition? Chime in here!

Submit a Comment
  • etaCarinae profile image

    Sara Johnson 

    4 years ago from United States

    Three more words: I. LOVE. Those!

  • TeriSilver profile imageAUTHOR

    Teri Silver 

    5 years ago from The Buckeye State

    Three words: Chocolate. Covered. Strawberries.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)