Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Spotlight On A Saint: St. Valentine

Published February 19, 2004

At least two, and possibly three different St. Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies (books containing information on the martyrs of the church) under the date of Feb. 14. One is described as a priest in Rome, another as the bishop of Interamna (now Terni, a city in central Italy).

St. Valentine’s Day

Several theories exist on the origin of Valentine’s Day. The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a companion for the year.

However, Pope Gelasius I was not a big fan of this custom. So he changed the lottery to have both young men and women draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year. Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine’s name. Feb. 14 is also said to be the day that all birds choose a mate.

How He Can Help You

Valentine’s Day may be over but don’t just use one day in February as the chance to show someone your love. Spread the love of God to your friends, enemies and all whose paths you cross. Celebrate St. Valentine’s Day all year long.