On February 14, we celebrate the feast day of St. Valentine, patron saint of love and marriages. Valentine was a Roman priest who was martyred for marrying Christian couples during the reign of a pagan Emperor who persecuted the Church.
Over the centuries, many great saints have been called to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony themselves. Here are a few of those heavenly love stories!
Spouse: King Malcom III of Scotland (m. 1070–1093)
Years married: 23
The daughter of an English prince, Margaret fled her home country with her mother and siblings following the Norman Conquest. By God’s providence, the family was shipwrecked onto Scotland’s shores, where the 25-year-old Margaret fell in love with and married King Malcolm III.
St. Margaret was a Queen of great faith and was a strong, pious influence on Malcolm’s reign. She was devoted to helping the poor and hungry. Margaret died only three days after her husband and her oldest son, Edward, were killed in battle. Three of her younger sons, Edgar, Alexander, and David, would go on to become kings of Scotland.
Spouse: Margaret of Provence (m. 1234–1270)
Years married: 36
The namesake of the city of St. Louis, MO, Louis IX became the King of France when he was only 11 years old. An honest, holy king who valued justice and charity, he lived by his mother’s words: “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.”
St. Louis was a dedicated husband to his wife, Queen Margaret, with whom he had 11 children. He also presided over some of medieval France’s most breathtaking architectural projects. For this, he is regarded as a patron saint of builders. His second, and eldest surviving son, Philip, succeeded him as king.
Spouses: Jane Colt (m. 1505–1511), Alice Middleton (m. 1511–1535)
Years married: 30
Children: 4 and one stepdaughter
Thomas More is widely celebrated as an English lawyer, political advisor, author, Renaissance philosopher, and martyr – but first, a husband and father.
More married Jane Colt and had four children with her. Following Jane’s early death in childbirth only six years later, he married Alice Middleton, a widow. More then became the stepfather to Middleton’s daughter, who he raised as his own.
More’s family was greatly tested when he was imprisoned and later beheaded for asserting the authority of the Church and Christ over that of King Henry VIII.
Canonized in 1935, More was declared by Pope St. John Paul II as a patron saint of politicians. St. Thomas More is also one of the patron saints of CatholicVote.
Spouse: William Seton (m. 1794–1803)
Years married: 9
The first American-born woman to become a saint, Elizabeth was born into a wealthy family in New York two years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Raised Protestant, she dutifully married businessman William Seton at the age of 19. Elizabeth and William had 5 children together, and helped care for his seven siblings.
After being widowed at age 29, Elizabeth learned of the fullness of the Catholic faith. She converted just a year and a half after her husband’s death.
St. Elizabeth Ann never remarried, and several years after becoming a Catholic, she became a religious sister and became steadfast in her pursuit of improving childhood education. She is widely remembered for her substantial contributions to Catholic schools in the United States.
Spouse: Pietro Molla (m. 1955–1962)
Years married: 7
A modern saint from northern Italy, St. Gianna Beretta Molla is a perfect representation of the unconditional and enduring love a mother has for her children.
A holy and charitable pediatrician, she was married to Pietro Molla, an engineer. While pregnant with her fourth child, she was diagnosed with a uterine tumor. While her doctors urged her to have an abortion to save her own life, Gianna, being fully devoted to the vocation of motherhood, refused – valuing her unborn daughter’s right to live. St. Gianna gave birth to a healthy baby girl, also named Gianna. However, just one week later, the elder Gianna passed away in an ultimate display of maternal sacrifice.
In 2004, Gianna’s widower and three of her four children had the unique experience of seeing their wife and mother canonized. Pietro died in 2010 at the age of 97. Three of St. Gianna’s children, including Gianna (the daughter she gave her life for), are still alive today and in their 60s. Following the example of her mother, the younger Gianna is now a doctor.