Every year, you celebrate Valentine’s Day but do you know its origin? Saint Valentine, after whom this beautiful festival was named, was a bishop who lived in ancient Rome.
Rome, at the time, was under the governance of the mighty emperor Claudius II. Claudius II was a powerful man who had thousands of soldiers loyal to him.
Those were the last days of the Roman Empire when there was always conflict going on. More were required to be recruited. The emperor wanted to control his empire and so, he would send his soldiers to battle to defeat other countries.
These soldiers were away from home all the time. And even though a soldier’s duty is to fight for his country and obey the orders given to him, they were human too.
They had homes and wives they loved very much. They began losing interest in fighting and after a battle; they didn’t want to leave their wives.
This infuriated the emperor. He felt that married men who were more emotionally attached to their families could not make good soldiers. He believed it made men weak. So to assure quality soldiers, he banned marriage. He declared that from then on it would be illegal for all soldiers to marry.
Valentine realized that the emperor had passed on an unjust order. He understood the soldiers’ cry and also all the young lovers who longed to marry the women they loved, but could not do so because of the order.
So he met them in a secret place, and got them married himself. He defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. But Claudius soon learned of it and had him arrested.
While Valentine awaited his fate in prison, he came in contact with his jailor, Asterius. The jailor had a blind daughter. Asterius requested him to heal his daughter.
It is said that Valentine, through prayer, succeeded in restoring the sight of Asterius’ daughter. The emperor, impressed with the young priest, a
ttempted to change his mind, and also convert him to the Roman gods. He told Valentine that if he gave up Christianity and converted to the Roman religion, he would not kill him. Also, he would have to stop conducting marriages.
But Valentine refused to obey the Emperor and do either of what he was asked to do. So, on February 14, 270 AD, Valentine was put to death by Claudius II.
Just before dying, he asked for a pen and paper from Asterius and wrote a farewell message to Asterius’ daughter. Then he signed the message as «From Your Valentine,» a phrase that lived ever after.
A popular legend has it that Valentine, while in prison; fell in love with Asterius’ daughter. However, not many believe this legend. But Valentine lived on in the hearts of all lovers in Rome. They declared him a Saint.
They dedicated February 14, the date of Valentine’s death, in his honor. Every year, they hold a festival on this date and call it «Valentine’s Day».
Happy Valentine’s Day