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Valentine, St

Valentine, St

According to tradition, St. Valentine is the patron saint of courtship, travelers, and young people. One story says that he was a Roman priest who became a martyr because he helped persecuted Christians around a.d. 270. Sent to prison, he restored the sight of a blind girl, who fell in love with him. According to another tale, Valentine was a young man awaiting execution. He loved the jailer's daughter and signed a farewell message to her "From your Valentine."

patron special guardian, protector, or supporter

martyr person who suffers or is put to death for a belief

pagan term used by early Christians to describe non-Christians and non-Christian beliefs

Early celebrations in honor of St. Valentine took place in the middle of February, around the time of an ancient Roman pagan festival known as the Lupercalia. It was customary for men to draw the name of a young girl from a box and celebrate the festival with her. The Christian church substituted names of saints for


*See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

the women, and individuals who picked them were supposed to draw inspiration from the lives of the saints.

During the Middle Ages, St. Valentine's feast day on February 14 became known as a day for lovers. The custom of sending valentines to a loved one on St. Valentine's Day may have come from the belief that birds begin to choose their mates on that day.

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Valentine, St

Valentine, St either of two early Italian saints (who may have been the same person) traditionally commemorated on 14 February—a Roman priest martyred c.269 and a bishop of Terni martyred at Rome. St Valentine was regarded as the patron of lovers, a tradition which may be connected with the old belief that birds pair on 14 February or with the pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia (15 February). His feast day is 14 February.
St Valentine's Day Massacre the shooting on 14 February 1929 in Chicago by some of Al Capone's men, disguised as policemen, of seven members of the rival gang of ‘Bugsy’ Moran.

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Valentine, Saint

Valentine, Saint Name traditionally associated with two legendary saints of the 3rd century: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Interamna (modern Terni). The former was a Roman priest and physician; the latter, the Bishop of Terni. Little is known about either of them. The martyrdom of both is commemorated on February 14. The custom of lovers exchanging cards on St Valentine's Day possibly has its roots in the pagan Roman festival of Lupercalia, an ancient fertility rite celebrated in Rome on February 15.

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Valentine, St

Valentine, St. Roman Christian martyr of the 3rd cent. The association of St Valentine's Day (14 Feb.) with lovers and choosing of a ‘Valentine’ has nothing to do with the martyr, but probably derives from customs of the Roman festival of Lupercalia in honour of the goddess Februata Juno, when boys drew by lot the names of unmarried girls (mid-February). The suggestion of Francis de Sales that the names of saints to be emulated should be drawn as Valentines has not caught on.

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Valentine, Saint

Saint Valentine, d. c.270, Roman martyr priest. The customs connected with him in English-speaking countries are probably a survival from a period when a pagan festival associated with love occurred about Feb. 14, which was his feast day until it was dropped from the liturgical calendar in 1969. He is now popularly considered the patron of lovers and the helper of those unhappily in love.

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