What little is known of the feast’s namesake can be attributed to the lives of two martyrs: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, though most scholars consider them to be the same person.
Valentine of Rome was reportedly arrested for giving aid to would-be martyrs and when he restored the sight of the judge’s daughter, the judge’s entire family converted to Christianity. Valentine of Terni was reportedly beheaded in 269 by Emperor Claudius II.
There are several theories about the origin of the saint’s feast day being associated with love, but according to popular hagiography, he performed weddings in secret for soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
Because Feb. 14 falls on Ash Wednesday this year, many are observing the saint’s feast day Feb. 13.