Myth Busted: The Truth Behind Saint Valentine is Not What You Expected

Dimitri N (Year 11)

Valentine’s day is a yearly celebration of love and commitment. A day to give gifts to your significant others and for literally every shop to make a heap of money off chocolates and flowers. Unfortunately for all Valentine’s Day appreciators out there, this holiday was based on a lie. 

Now don’t get me wrong, just because the basis of this holiday might not be the classical story of love and hope, it does not mean that this holiday is invalid or any less of a good way to celebrate loved ones. Nonetheless, here is the true history of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of Valentine’s Day. 

 The first thing to know; the history of Saint Valentine is not quite clear. He lived somewhere around the 3rd century AD, which came at the cost of very little documentation about his life. In fact, the church says that there are three Saint Valentines! This is very confusing when trying to dissect the history of the holiday.  

Some sources say that Saint Valentine was a hopeless romantic who spent his time marrying couples and helping them through hardship in Rome. Allegedly, he eventually was arrested for organising and performing Christian marriages. As his legacy, he became the patron saint of courtship and love.  

Unfortunately, after more research, it seems that this romantic Saint Valentine, so central to Valentine’s Day’s theme of love, seems to be a fabrication.  

The three Saint Valentines have very different stories, yet they all end in gruesome deaths. Not so romantic now, is it?  

One of the Saint Valentine’s was said to have died with a troop of soldiers in Africa, in a quite painful way. The other two were said to have provided people with miraculous cures and then ended up beheaded by Roman authorities. One of these two saints was also a bishop of the Catholic Church and is the patron saint of beekeepers and epileptics, which I guess is worth mentioning. All three saints are martyrs and saints for a reason, but it seems that they did not live the legend of love romanticised by lovers across the globe.  

In truth, the decision on which story to believe is entirely up to you. (Comment which version stands out to you most below!) 

Whatever you believe and whatever the history might actually be, in these times Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and commitment – and its historical background in all likelihood does not matter. So, while you think back on this holiday, or plan for the next one, now you can know the true history of Saint Valentine and how different it is from the day we celebrate.