How did Valentine’s Day start?

A Better Man

Who was St. Valentine and why does he somehow bless the hearts of lovers in the middle of February? One can imagine some combination of a cherubic Cupid and a saintly old man with a nice smile fulfilling that role. The truth is, of course, more complicated. First of all, there was not just one Saint Valentine. And the one we most commonly associate with the holiday was a martyr who happened to be beheaded on February 14th in a story that is hardly romantic.

There were actually three men named Saint Valentine who all lived around the same time in the third century AD. Two of these men, known as Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Terni, lived in Italy. And the third was in a Roman province in North Africa.

The one we officially celebrate on Valentine’s Day is the Saint Valentine of Rome, but it’s…

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