Feast of Saint Valentine on Feb. 14

Special masses, floral offerings, and prayers will be offered in several Catholic churches in the country and in many parts of the world on Tuesday, Feb. 14, in honor of the popular Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers.

St. Valentine (Catholic Online)

Mass weddings and renewal of marriage vows are common practices that are usually sponsored by local government units in the country on Valentine’s Day.

The observance of the Feast of St. Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I on Feb. 14, 496 A.D. in memory of a kind-hearted Roman priest who was arrested, clubbed, and eventually, beheaded for marrying soldiers who were forbidden to marry, ministering to Christians, giving aid to martyrs in prison, and for refusing to renounce his faith during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, a time when Christians were severely persecuted and punished.

According to stories, St. Valentine, while still in jail, was able to convert his jailer to Christianity after he restored the eyesight of his blind daughter. Before St. Valentine was beheaded on Feb. 14, 269, he wrote a farewell note to her and signed it, “From Your Valentine.” The well-loved priest was buried at the Flaminian Way in Rome, Italy, where a basilica was built in his honor and memory.

Relics of St. Valentine were kept in the Church and Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St. Valentine were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV. His skull, crowned with flowers, is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics of him were taken to Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, which continues to be a popular place of pilgrimage, especially on Saint Valentine's Day, for those seeking love.

His association with love and romance supports the belief that during the month of February, birds choose their mates, hence, St. Valentine’s association with love birds and doves, as well as the color red, which is both the symbol of martyrdom and love.