On February 14, we celebrate Valentine's Day, the feast of lovers! On this occasion, couples show their love in all manner of ways: flowers, gifts, sweet words, etc. But why do we celebrate lovers on February 14? Where does this tradition come from? How do Christians Celebrate Valentine's Day?
In this article, learn the origins of Valentine's Day and discover Saint Valentine, the patron of lovers!
To prepare yourself to fully experience Valentine's Day, pray a novena for Valentine's Day now!
The feast of Saint Valentine was originally a pagan feast dating back to the time of ancient Rome, in the 4th century BC. On the occasion of the Lupercalia, celebrated between February 13 and 15, the celebration of the transition to adulthood of the young Romans took place. Couples were formed via draw that would spend a year together until the draw the following year.
The ceremony did not much respect Christian values, and it was prohibited by Pope Gelasius I in 496. In order to fight against this pagan practice, he officially instituted a Christian feast on February 14. At that time, Saint Valentine was not yet considered the patron saint of lovers.
The celebration of a "lovers' festival" dates back to the Middle Ages, in the 14th century. At the time, several popular customs took place: on the first Sunday of Lent, for example, each girl had to choose a rider, nicknamed "valentine", to go out with her. The lovers then exchanged gifts, cards, and notes. Processions were also organized every year to celebrate the lovers.
In England, it was also thought that birds mated on February 14. By observing them, the girls sought to guess what their future husband would be like: the goldfinch announced a rich man, the sparrow symbolized a happy marriage, and the robin meant that the future husband would be a sailor!
In 1496, Pope Alexander VI officially designated Valentine of Terni, celebrated on February 14, as "patron of lovers". But who is he? Why are lovers placed under his patronage?
Martyr of the Catholic Church, Saint Valentine of Terni was a priest who lived in the 3rd century.
Legend has it that Saint Valentine opposed the authority of the emperor Claudius II: while the latter had prohibited the celebration of marriages to send men to battle, Saint Valentine continued to secretly marry couples. Imprisoned, Valentin was brought before the judge, whose adopted daughter, Julia, was blind. "If you can heal it, I would believe that Jesus is the light and that He is God" affirmed the judge.
It is said that a miracle occurred then: Valentine put his hand on the girl's eyes and proclaimed "Lord, who are the True Light, enlighten your servant". Then, Julia regained her sight. His entire family asked for the grace of baptism!
Following these events, Claudius II sentenced Valentin to death. It is said that Julia planted an almond tree near the tomb of Saint Valentine: the tree is considered since that day as a symbol of love!
Although considered a commercial holiday today, Valentine's Day is still celebrated by many couples. The tradition is to exchange gestures and attentions that symbolize the love that we have for each other: bouquets of flowers, kisses, gifts, etc. Very often, couples take the opportunity to go to dinner together.
Today, February 14 is no longer a Catholic feast: Valentine's Day was removed from the liturgical calendar in the 20th century. Many Christians deplore the fact that it is above all a commercial festival.
However, in recent years, the Church has sought to spiritualize the pagan tradition of Valentine's Day by seeing it as an opportunity to invite couples to meditate on love and an opportunity to deepen their marriage.
For Christians, Valentine's Day is also an opportunity to rediscover the patronage of Saint Valentine of Terni, protector of those who love each other!
"Saint Valentine, Protector of those who love each other, You who lived and proclaimed, at the risk of your life, the message of Peace of the Gospel, You who, through the fight of Love of martyrdom, triumphed with all your forces of indifference, hatred and death, Listen to our prayer: In the face of the tears and divisions of the world, give us always to love each other without any selfishness to be, in the midst of all, faithful witnesses of the Love of God. Allow us to remain animated by a love and a confidence capable of making us overcome the obstacles of life. We pray to you, intercede for us with God who is the very source of all Love and all Beauty and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Valentine's Day, pray for us! Amen”
For us Christians, February 14 is an opportunity to pray to Saint Valentine, great martyr saint, patron of lovers, and to entrust to him all our desires: to meet our soulmate, to found a family, to live a Christian marriage, to rediscover the grace of loving each other, etc.
Trust in Saint Valentine, protector of those who love each other!