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St. Valentine of Rome, Patron Saint of Love

Saint Valentine of Rome, a popular saint, is the patron saint of love. His feast day is celebrated worldwide as Valentine's Day. Valentine, a bishop, worked zealously to spread the faith throughout Rome. Arrested for defying imperial authority due to being Christian, Valentine was imprisoned and eventually executed. It is believed that St. Valentine is the patron of love due to his marrying Christian couples secretly. Valentine's Day is one of the most-celebrated holidays of our modern times.

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It seems that St. Valentine was a member of the Christian Community. Not much is known about his early life; this would suggest that he was of humble origin.

The saint became a cleric, and his holiness was such that he quickly became one of the leaders of the Church in Rome. Valentine later became bishop of Terni in Umbria. He was a zealous missionary, and brought the Word of God to many in Rome. He was arrested and tortured for converting people to the One True Faith. He was released, but was still committed to saving souls for Christ. Furthermore, he was marrying Christian couples secretly and helping those Christians who were being persecuted by the Roman government. At this period, the empire was in crisis, and Christians were being scapegoated by a fearful populace.

St. Valentine was later arrested again for continuing to try to convert people to Christianity. His act was seen as defying imperial authority. He was sent to Rome, where he was interviewed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Valentine was an impressive and charismatic man, and the Emperor was very much taken with him. Valentine was allowed to stay at the Imperial Court, both the confidante and prisoner of the Emperor.

A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow, until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius about Christianity. Claudius became enraged, commanding Valentine to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded.

While imprisoned, he healed the jailer's blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, "Your Valentine." This is often believed to be the source of the first Valentine.

St. Valentine refused to renounce his Christian faith, and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269 AD.

The flower-crowned skull of St. Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

There are many legends about the saint and his miracles. One well-known story about St. Valentine dates back to when he was the Bishop of Terni, under house arrest. One day he was visited by a local judge. While discussing religion and faith with the judge, Valentine pledged the truth of Jesus. The judge immediately put Valentine and his faith to the test, in order to determine if Jesus really was the Savior. St. Valentine was presented with the judge's blind daughter, and told to restore her sight. If he succeeded, the judge vowed to do anything for Valentine. Placing his hands upon her eyes, Valentine restored the child's vision.The judge was amazed, and destroyed all the idols in his household. He and all of his extended family became Christians.

Why St. Valentine is the patron saint of lovers is not known for certain. Many believe that the saint became the patron saint of lovers because of his bravery in marrying Christians secretly. By doing so he was risking his own life, for the Emperor wanted many unmarried men available to be drafted into his armies.

St. Valentine's feast day is February 14th.