According to tradition, Saint Valentinus was martyred on this day, February 14th in 269, exactly one thousand seven hundred fifty-four years ago.
It is said that in third century Rome, the emperor Claudius Gothicus ordered the arrest of a Christian priest. While in custody the priest is said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailer, resulting in the jailer and his entire family converting to Christianity and being baptized. When Gothicus learned what had happened he was furious and by his command the priest was beaten, stoned, then beheaded. Christians built a chapel over the martyred priest’s grave, and in due course he was canonized. Father Valentinus thus became Saint Valentinus.
Eleven centuries later, legend had it that St. Valentine had been arrested for secretly officiating the marriages of Christian couples after Gothicus had banned weddings (on the grounds that married men didn’t make good soldiers), a claim that, although not included in the earliest accounts, may (or may not) have been true.
According to English folk tradition birds chose their mates for the upcoming season on February 14, the feast day of Saint Valentine. Perhaps inspired by a 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer poem mentioning this tradition, lovestruck upper-class English men and women began sending love notes to their sweethearts (whom they referred to as their “Valentines”) on St. Valentine’s day. And the rest is history. ...