History Of St. Valentine's Day

Imagine a time in history when marriage was forbidden. St. Valentine--a Roman priest--chose to marry young couples in secret.

To fully understand St. Valentine and the origin of the holiday that bears his name, you have to travel back to the third century A.D., when Roman Emperor Claudius II issued a decree forbidding Roman citizens to marry.

Why would Claudius do such a thing? Because he believed that married men were too emotionally, physically and mentally attached to their wives, and were thus, less apt to be good soldiers in his army.

One Roman priest, however, believed that marriage was a holy institution and that two people in love should be able to receive that blessing from God.

That priest was Valentine. And in order to help these couples, he would marry them in secret ceremonies...until Cladius found out about his scheme.

The emperor offered Valentine an ultimatum: Bow to the Roman gods and stop performing these marriages, or die.

Valentine refused to recognize the Roman deities and was sentenced to death.

That act of courage, faith and convictions alone would have been reason enough for young lovers to dedicate this day to Valentine, but why do we send cards expressing our affection?

Well, while Valentine was in prison awaiting his execution, he met a jailer who had a blind daughter. The jailer, knowing of Valentine's deep devotion to God, asked if the priest would heal his child. Through his faith, the girl was healed. Just before his execution on February 14, 270, however, Valentine sent a note to the jailer's daughter. It read: "From your Valentine."

News of Valentine spread and his name became synonymous with love, cards of endearment, and for some inexplicable reason, chocolate and lingerie.

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