The Roman Martyrology commemorates two martyrs named Valentine on February 14, indicating that both
were beheaded on the Flaminian Way, one at Rome, the other at Terni some 60 miles from the capital. Valentine of Rome was a priest who is said to have died c. 269 during the persecution of Claudius the Goth. The other Valentine was allegedly bishop of Terni, and his death is attested to in the martyrology of st. jerome. Whether there were actually one or two Valentines is disputed. O. Marucchi held for two. H. Delehaye thought that Valentine of Terni may have been brought to Rome for execution and that two cults, one at Rome, another at Terni, sprang up to the same martyr. The late medieval custom of sending love notes on Saint Valentine's Day stems probably from the belief that it marked the mating season of birds.
According to the liberian catalogue and the Liber pontificalis, Pope julius i (336–356) built a basilica on the Via Flaminia, two miles from Rome, over the sepulcher of the martyr, a Valentine whose cult is attested to by fourth-century inscriptions. Remains of the memoria have recently been unearthed and indicate that an original three-nave church was rebuilt with colonnades substituted for walls, and that later a crypt and presbyterium were added. The Notitia ecclesiarum credits Pope Honorius I (625–638) with a reconstruction, whereas Popes Benedict II (684–685), Adrian I (772–795), Leo III (795–816), and Gregory IV (827–844) adorned and rebuilt the church. In 1060 Abbot Teubald restored the church and monastery. In 1905 fragments of an epigraph composed by Pope damasus i and a marble sarcophagus adorned with a fourth-century representation of Christ before Pilate and two soldiers beneath a crux invicta were discovered. The body of the martyr seems to have been translated to the chapel of St. Zeno in Prassede in the 13th century.
Parts of a subterranean cemetery near the church of St. Valentine were discovered by P. Ugonio and A. Bosio in 1594, and in 1877 O. Marucchi rediscovered the site, which contained many archeological artifacts from a.d. 318 to 523, among them several fragments inscribed with the name of Valentine, and the decoration on a sarcophagus representing a ship called "Thecla" with Paul at the helm.
Feast: February 14.
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum February 2:751–62. o. marucchi, Il cimitero e la basilica di S. Valentino (Rome 1890); Le Catacombe romane (Rome 1932). h. delehaye, Les Origines du culte des martyrs (2d ed. Brussels 1933) 270, 315–316. h. a. kelly, Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine (Leiden 1986). n. wilkins, ed., Two miracles: La nonne qui laissa son abbaie; [and] Saint Valentin (New York 1973). r. sabuda, Saint Valentine (New York 1992). c. c. f. hÜlsen, Le chiese di Roma (Florence 1927). b. m. apollon j-ghetti, Rivista di archeologia cristiana 25 (1949) 171–189.