Obit of the Day (Historical): St. Valentine (270)
St. Valentine has become the missing element of the day that honors his name. Then again much of what we know about him is sketchy at best. According to tradition, in AD 270 a priest named Valentine, who may have also been a physician, was beheaded by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus. A church was built in Valentine’s honor and in 496 Pope Gelasius named February 14, St. Valentine’s Day.
The love imagery surrounding the day is not directly related to the saints works but likely came from Lupercalia, a Roman festival in February that not only honored wolves (lup-, lupus) but involved a tradition of maidens putting love notes in a box that young men would then draw out at random and begin courting.
(Image of the martyrdom of St. Valentine from Speculum historiale, French (Paris), ca. 1335, Bibliotheque national de France, MS Arsenal 5080, fol. 197 courtesy of Ad Imagenem Dei)