In the Words of St. Valentine

GOT BIG PLANS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY? SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US ON

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT ST. VALENTINE HAS TO DO WITH LOVE? AND WHAT HAS LOVE GOT TO DO WITH GIVING?

Read it in the words of St. Valentine himself:

My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century A.D. when it was ruled by an emperor named Claudius, who wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer. Many men just did not want to fight in wars leaving their wives and families. Not many men signed up. As you might have guessed, this made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I certainly wasn’t going to support that law!

LoveDid I mention that I was a priest? One of my favorite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies—secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.

One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment was death.

LoveI tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love.

One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, “Love from your Valentine” on February 14, 269 A.D.

LoveI believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine’s Day. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh—because they know that love can't be beaten!

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