The year was 270 AD, and the Roman empire had grown too large to be shielded from outside enemies, not to mention inside chaos. The emperor at the time, Claudius II, tried desperately to recruit soldiers and officers. As he searched, he found that married men were too emotionally attached to their families. So to assure the quality of his soldiers he issued an edict forbidding all marriage.
A Roman bishop, named Valentine, saw the sadness of the young people in love. He began meeting these couples in secret locations and joining them in marriage. When Claudius heard of this “friend of those in love,” he had Valentine arrested.
The emperor was so impressed with the young priest’s dignity and conviction that he tried to convert him to the Roman gods. This would have been the only way to save Valentine from certain execution. Valentine not only refused but tried to convert Claudius to Christianity — fully aware of the consequence. On Feb. 24, Valentine was executed.
While Valentine was imprisoned he had befriended his jailer, Asterius. Asterius asked Valentine to heal his blind daughter. Through Valentine’s faith, he miraculously restored the sight of this young woman. Just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper and signed a farewell wish to her “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that has lived ever after.
Valentine became a patron saint and was the reason for a yearly festival held in his honor. The celebration involved young Roman men offering women they admired and wished to court handwritten greetings of affection on February 14. These cards all bore St. Valentine’s name.
So, I’m not going to write tomorrow off as a Hallmark holiday. Not when a man died to make us see the importance of love. To all those who touch my life, I love you.