The attempt by the Catholic Church to put an end to a popular pagan fertility rite is the origin of this holiday that celebrates love.
Since the fourth century a.c., the pagan Romans paid homage, with a unique annual ritual, to the god Lupercus. The names of the men and women who worshipped this God were placed in an urn, then sorted at random and paired up. The couples lived for a whole year together until the next ritual.
Determined to put an end to this practice, the Church tried to find a saint to replace the deleterious Lupercus. They found a likely candidate in Valentine, a bishop who had been martyred some two hundred years before.
Legend has it that whilst captive he fell in love with the blind daughter of his guardian. He healed her sight and before he died he left her a farewell message “from your Valentine”, a sentence that lived long after the death of its author.