St Valentine's relics in Rome

A slightly grisly reminder that tomorrow, 14 February, is the feast of St Valentine, a martyr saint of Rome.


This is the relic of his skull and bones housed in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome.


The early Medieval Acta of either Saint Valentine were excerpted by Bede and briefly expounded in Legenda Aurea. According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed on 14 February c.270. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer.


The Legenda Aurea still providing no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail.


In an embellishment to The Golden Legend, on the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he wrote the first "valentine" himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed, or both. It was a note that read "From your Valentine."


In another apparently modern embellishment, while Valentine was imprisoned, people would leave him little notes, folded up and hidden in cracks in the rocks around his cell. He would find them and offer prayers for them.


Of course, there is the more ancient pagan reason: In ancient Rome, February 14 was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the feast of Lupercalia.


The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.

Andy, Pater JPM and 53 more people faved this
  • torimages PRO 7y

    Marvellous Lawrence always enjoy reading your history bits
  • Pater JPM PRO 7y

    In the finest Dominican tradition.... thanks for the research!
  • Michael Bryan Mordeno 7y

    May I just ask, isn't it that there are two St. Valentines in Rome, this one is the priest, the other one is a bishop. So which St. Valentine do we celebrate today?
  • Lawrence OP PRO 7y

    St Valentine the bishop is not in Rome; today's feast (no longer in the universal calendar, BTW) marks the Roman martyr, whose story is detailed above.
  • Michael Bryan Mordeno 7y

    thanks for the information!
  • quitandarwin 7y

    hey friar lawrence!!! nice history of saint valentine!!!
    i'm a 16 year old filipino catholic boy
    may i ask a question?? isn't it that saint ursula , saint barbara and saint catherine of alexandria were removed from the church calendar? does that mean that we can no longer venerate them? here in the philippines there are hundreds of towns and parish churches named under the patronage of the saints mentioned santa barbara, santa catalina de alejandria , santa praxedes and the like. and by the way did i mention that here where i live (cagayan valley) Your spanish predecessors baptized and christianzed the natives and built many beautiful churches out of adobe stones and bricks in the early 16th century when our country was still colonized by Spain. and i'm really thankful that the dominicans were the ones who evangelized cagayan valley.

    and i have many questions about church liturgy , can i post them tomorrow or next week?

    thanks friar lawrence!!!

    bendisyunan na ka kuma ni Apu!!!
    GOD BLESS!!!:>
  • Lawrence OP PRO 7y

    St Catherine of Alexandria was re-instated by Pope John Paul II in 2002. Her feast is 25 November. As for St Ursula, St Barbara, St Christopher etc - these remain just local cults rather than universal feasts. This means that they can be venerated in local communities, including parishes on their patronal feast days, but is no longer celebrated by the whole Church around the world.

    You are welcome to send me a message via Flickr with more questions or email me:
  • quitandarwin 7y

    thanks Friar Lawrence!!!

    uhm is it just okay with you if i call you Friar Lawrence? hehehe!!lol

    Buenas Noches!!

    GOD BLESS!!!
  • mym 7y

    February 14

    Love can be Southern -
    The wild leaps of the men
    from the slope of the Lupercal
    Into the city. The run
    Down bright streets,
    Whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
    Whipping the crowd.

    But our love is Northern.
    Returning sunlight, slowly growing
    In the wood, on the tree,
    In these words.
    'For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day'
    As the poet said,
    'Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate'

    [A Valentine's Day poem. At the roman festival of the Lupercalia the priestly college of the Luperci met in the Lupercal cave on the Palatine Hill - where Romulus and Remus were raised by the she-wolf. There they sacrificed goats and a dog. Smeared in the blood, and clothed only in loincloths made from the skins of the sacrifices, the Luperci ran through Rome, striking passers-by with februa - thongs made from skins of the sacrificed goats - this bestowed luck and fertility. February was also sacred to Juno Februata, the goddess of the fever of love (hence our word febrile). February derives from februa. The 'poet' is Chaucer, and the quote is from his 'Parliament of Fowles'.]
  • Pierre Ethier PRO 7y

    Very nice !!!!!!! 777
  • Kerry Kate 6y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Haunted Decor, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Steph A 6y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called look what I saw on Flickr!, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Meldelen 6y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Martyrium: Female Martyrs, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • mym 6y

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Taken on July 29, 2007
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