The Legends of Saint Valentine

The story of Saint Valentine of Terni is shrouded in mystery and folklore, with various legends intertwining over the centuries.

Saint Valentine is revered as the patron saint of lovers, and his feast day on February 14th is celebrated worldwide. Valentine was a Christian bishop from Terni, who died as a martyr in Rome on February 14th, 273 AD. He was laid to rest in Terni, in the Basilica where his relics can still be found today.

One of the most famous legends tells that Emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century AD had issued a decree that prohibited the marriage of young men, believing that singles made better soldiers. However, Valentine disobeyed this decree and continued to perform secret weddings for young couples. When his disobedience was discovered, Valentine was arrested and brought before the Emperor. During his imprisonment, legend has it that Valentine healed the blindness of his jailer’s daughter and that, before his execution, he wrote her a farewell letter, signing it “From your Valentine.”

This story has helped to cement Saint Valentine’s association with romantic love. Another version of the Saint Valentine story suggests that he might have been martyred for aiding persecuted Christians during the reign of Claudius II. Yet another legend tells of Valentine witnessing two young lovers arguing and giving them a rose, urging them to hold it together as a way to reconcile, and then having doves fly around them, hence the term “lovebirds.” In any case, the figure of Saint Valentine quickly became a symbol of love and devotion, and his feast day became associated with romantic love over the centuries.