Is Valentine’s Day a Christian Holiday?

No, but until 1969 the church honored a third century Christian priest named Valentinus with a Feast Day on February 14–the date he was martyred by the Roman ruler, Claudius II, in 269 AD.

Though historians cannot verify all the stories of the life of St. Valentine, there is consensus about the miracle that God performed in response to one of Valentine’s prayers. Arrested for failing to worship Roman gods, Valentinus was placed under house arrest in the home of a Roman judge named Asterius who had a blind daughter. The judge asked Valentinus to prove that the God of Christianity was greater than the Roman gods. The priest prayed and sight was restored to Asterius’ daughter. As a result of this miracle, Asterius and his family became Christians, and the judge not only freed Valentinus, but also many imprisoned Christians.

While free, Valentinus served the Christianian community in a variety of ways including presiding over the marriage of many young couples. At the time, the emperor had forbidden soldiers to marry, but many wanted to do so before heading off to war. In addition to marrying them, Valentinus would cut paper into small hearts as keepsakes for the newly-married couples.

Valentinus was arrested a second time, and for sharing the gospel with Emperor Claudius, he was beaten and beheaded. While in prison he sent a letter to Asterius’ daughter which he signed, Your Valentine.

As the story of St. Valentine had so many romantic overtones, the Feast Day became a time when romantic love was celebrated. From the middle ages until today, St. Valentine’s Day is a time when heart-shaped “valentines” are exchanged between lovers and friends.

Unfortunately, lost in the celebrations are an understanding of the Christian background to the story and to greatest expression of true love the world has ever known.

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

A week from now, Christians around the world will shift their focus from Valentine’s Day to Lent. They will begin a 40-day preparation for the celebration of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross as payment for all the sins of the world and his resurrection opening the way for us to enjoy an eternity free of suffering and pain, guilt and loss–an eternal life marked by a peace we can never know in this life.

Embrace God’s love and you will discover how to truly love others. To learn more, we encourage you to read our post: How does one become a Christian?