The story of St. Valentine differs according to version, but most agree that Saint Valentine was a bishop in Rome who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men. (Special Photo)
February has long been a month of romance and associated with Valentine’s Day celebrations. But where did this tradition originate? Who is this St. Valentine?
Though millions around the world now celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day of expressing love, the origin actually began as a result of a clash between a priest and a ruler more than one thousand years ago.
Modern St. Valentine’s Day celebrations are said to have been derived in 496 A.D., when Pope Gelasius proclaimed Feb. 14 to be the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived in the third century.
The story of St. Valentine differs according to version, but most agree that Saint Valentine was a bishop in Rome who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, would not make good soldiers. In order to ensure the presence of good soldiers, he issued an edict forbidding marriage.
The people were afraid to voice their opposition, and Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. Valentine married many young couples in secret, but when Claudius found out, he had him arrested.
While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailer who had heard rumors of Valentine’s supposed ability to heal people. Seeking healing for his blind daughter, the jailer sought Valentine’s help.
This is where versions differ, but the general assumption is that Valentine did help the jailer’s daughter in some way, forming a deep friendship between the two. After Claudius ordered Valentine’s execution.
It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailer, and signed a farewell message to his daughter, “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that became legendary.
Valentine is believed to have been executed on Feb. 14, 270 A.D.
Through the centuries, Valentine’s Day evolved into today’s modern tradition of giving cards and gifts to loved ones. It is now one of the biggest holidays celebrated in the U.S. and around the world.