Who was St. Valentine?

There are several theories about where and how St. Valentine’s Day got started. The real reason why, each year we celebrate love on the fourteenth day of February, may always be shrouded in mystery, but there is no shortage of the legends about why this is true.

One theory is that Valentine was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II in Rome during the third century. Claudius, it is said, decided that single men made better soldiers than married men, so he issued a decree making it illegal for young men to marry. The priest, Valentine, continued to perform wedding ceremonies in spite of the decree. He just performed the ceremonies in secret. When Claudius found out about Valentine’s disobedience, he ordered him executed.

Valentine’s Day contains vestiges of ancient Roman tradition as well as Christian tradition. The Catholic Church has at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom are martyred, that is, who died for their faith.

There are stories that suggest that St. Valentine was killed by the Romans for helping Christians escape from Roman prisons. There is also a legend that says that Valentine actually sent the first Valentine greeting himself to a young woman (rumored to have been the daughter of one of his jailers) while he was imprisoned. The legend claims that Valentine wrote a love letter to her before his death and signed it, “From your Valentine”. (This is the legend that I like the most.)

You can choose the legend that you like the best. Just don’t forget to send Valentine’s Day greetings to all of those you care about on February 14th…and especially to that special someone in your life! Valentine’s Day is the day to celebrate love in all of its many forms. And fortunately, thanks to e-cards, you can manage it even at the last minute, so long as you do!

Who was St. Valentine?
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Who was St. Valentine?
Learn more about the history behind Valentine's Day.

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