Every 14 February, across the world, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this unexplained saint and why do we rejoice this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is wearing a veil in mystery.
But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become connected with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church be familiar with at least three dissimilar saints named Valentine or Valentines, all of whom were martyred.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed matrimony for young men — his crop of potential military.
Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and constant to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories propose that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one myth, Valentine actually sent the first
valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his incarceration. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signedFrom your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.
Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories positively highlight his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, in addition to, most highly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most admired saints in England and France.
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