In the name of love, sweethearts of all ages exchange gifts, flowers, cards on the modern holiday named after St. Valentine, whose story is far from being a patron of love.
Historians have documented a handful of St. Valentines over time. According to an article in the academic journal Repertorio de Medicina y Cirugía, there were two different men in Europe who were granted the title of St. Valentine, Valentine de Terni, and Valentine de Raethia, but scholars believe Valentine de Terni is the historical figure dubbed as the symbol of love.
Valentine de Terni was a third-century Roman saint known for healing the sick but jailed for secretly marrying couples and disobeying the edict of Roman Emperor Claudius II. According to historians, Roman soldiers could not marry as it was believed for marriage would diminish their efficiency on the battlefield.
Scholars say that while in jail, Valentine de Terni restored the sight of Julia, the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, who converted to Christianity shortly after. Both men were beheaded at the order of Emperor Claudius II.
It is said that before his execution on February 14, 271 AD., Valentine de Terni wrote a love letter to Julia signed “from your Valentine” giving rise to the celebration of St. Valentine's Day.
St. Valentine was less widely known for his ability to cure epilepsy, a disease involving dramatic seizures that were thought of as a supernatural event like a curse or possession. It was believed that healing incurable diseases were only possible by divine intervention, and saints were called upon for help.
Churches around the world illustrate Saint Valentine as the patron saint of epilepsy. In the imagery that comes from various time periods, Valentine de Terni is conveyed in search of supernatural healing, others portrayed conducting exorcisms, and ridding epileptic patients of demons.