Did You Know??
There are three different stories about saints named Valentine (or Valentinus) - all of whom met a tragic death. Here are the stories of the Three Valentines that may each have been the namesake of what we know as the "day of love" observed on Feb. 14:
1. In this story, Valentine is a priest in 300AD. Emperor Claudius II had recently decided that unmarried men made better soldiers than those who had to worry about a wife and children, so he outlawed marriage for younger men. Valentine saw this as a great injustice for men who wanted to marry, so he defied the emperor and decided to perform secret marriage ceremonies for young couples. When Claudius's spies reported to him that young couples were still being married, he determined to find out who was conducting the unlawful ceremonies. The emperor's guards arrested Valentine and he was beheaded.
2. In this second story, Valentine was put under house arrest by Judge Asterius in the town of Umbria. The judge, having gotten to know Valentine, was discussing matters of faith and the validity of Jesus, and he told Valentine that he would convert if Valentine would heal the eyesight of the judge's adopted blind daughter. When they brought the girl to him, Valentine laid his hands on her eyes and her sight was restored. Consequently, the judge and 44 members of his household were all baptized. When Emperor Claudius II heard of the miracle, he sent for Valentine and took a liking to him, until Valentine also tried to convert him, whereon he had Valentine executed for undermining the government.
3. The third story goes that Valentine may have been operating an "underground railroad" in Rome to help persecuted Christians escape when he was captured and imprisoned himself. They say that a young woman of great rank visited him in jail - maybe the jailer's daughter or even the daughter of Emperor Claudius II - and they fell in love. When Claudius ordered Valentine's execution, Valentine wrote one last letter to his love that he signed "From your Valentine".
Although each of these stories is unique, and there were indeed many priests named Valentine around that timeframe, it is also possible that all of the stories could be about the same man. Whatever the truth about the real Valentine may be, there's no denying the popularity of the stories about him that took root and by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
The Christian church then named a day of feasting in the middle of February after St. Valentine, in an attempt to "Christianize" the Roman pagan celebration of love that occurred around the same time.