For most people, the visual experience of and leading up to Valentine’s Day consists of a bombardment of the senses with hearts, Cupids and putti (winged babies), chocolates, and roses — all in a palette of pastel reds and pinks. Love is in the air, and it gets plastered on gift cards, kitschy tchotchkes, and, most recently, mobile phone applications.
But there’s another, comparatively obscure pictorial narrative surrounding Valentine’s Day and its patron saint, which has its own iconography and stylization. St. Valentine, one or a composite of several third-century figures, is shrouded in mystery. Artists have been depicted him (or them) in a variety of different manners, from an old man with a long white beard to an innocent martyr-to-be. Read more on the Washington Post's On Faith blog.