n the 3rd century, the Roman Empire was being invaded by Goths.
At the same time, the Plague of Cyprian, probably smallpox, broke out killing at its height 5,000 people a day. So many died that the Roman army was depleted of soldiers.
Needing more soldiers to fight the invading Goths, and believing that men fought better if they were not married, Emperor Claudius II banned traditional marriage in the military.
Also, to quell internal rivalries over the previous Emperor Gallienus being assassinated, Claudius had the Senate deify him with the Roman gods to be worshiped.
Those who refused to worship the Roman gods were considered 'unpatriotic' enemies of the state and killed, as in Emperor Decian's persecution which targeted Christians with legislation forcing them to deny their consciences or die.
During the first three centuries of Christianity, there were ten major persecutions in which the government threw Christians to the lions, boiled them alive, had their tongues cut out, and worse.
Christian writings, scriptures and historical records were destroyed.
Because so many records were destroyed, details of Saint Valentine's
life are scant.
What little is know was passed down and finally printed in the year 1260 in Legenda Sanctorum
by Jacobus de Voragine, and in the Nuremberg Chronicle
, 1493.Saint Valentine
was either a priest in Rome or a bishop in Terni, central Italy.
He risked the Emperor's wrath by standing up for traditional marriage, secretly marrying soldiers to their young brides.
When Emperor Claudius demanded that Christians deny their consciences and worship pagan idols, Saint Valentine
was arrested, dragged before the Prefect of Rome, and condemned him to die.
While awaiting execution, his jailer, Asterius, asked Saint Valentine
to pray for his blind daughter. When she miraculously regained her sight, the jailer converted and was baptized, along with many others.
Right before his execution, Saint Valentine
wrote a note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "from your Valentine
." Saint Valentine
was beaten with clubs and stones, and when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate on FEBRUARY 14, 269AD.
In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated FEBRUARY 14th as "Saint Valentine's Day."
In the High Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer, called the father of English literature, wrote Parliament of Foules
(c.1393) that birds chose their mates in mid-February:
"For this was Saint Valentine's day
, when every bird of every kind that men can imagine comes to this place to choose his mate."
After Chaucer, literature began associating Saint Valentine's day
with courtly love.
This eventually developed into the 18th-century English traditions of presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending Valentine
People often sign Valentine cards
with X's and O's.
The Greek name for Christ, Χριστό, begins with the letter "X" which in Greek is called "Chi."
"X" became a common abbreviation for the name Christ.
This is why Christ-mas is abbreviated as X-mas.
In Medieval times, the "X" was called the Christ's Cross, or "Criss-Cross."
The Christ's Cross was a form of a written oath.
Similar to the ancient practice of swearing upon a Bible, saying "so help me God," then kissing the Bible, people would sign a document with or next to the Christ's Cross to swear before God they would keep the agreement, then kiss it to show sincerity.
This practice has come down to us as "sign at the X", or saying "I swear, cross my heart."
This is the origin of signing a Valentines' card
with an "X" to express a pledge before God to be faithful, and an "O" to seal the pledge with a kiss of sincerity. Get the book, American Minute - Notable Events in American History Remembered on the Date They Occurred
History is intertwined with Valentines
Frederick Douglass was born a slave and separated from his mother as a child. All he remembers is her calling him, 'my little valentine
Theodore Roosevelt's wife and mother died on Valentine's Day
in 1884. Depressed, he dropped out of New York politics, left his infant daughter with a relative, and went off to ranch in the Dakotas.
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre
occurred in 1929 during the Prohibition era. Al Capone's Chicago mob murdered seven members of Bugs Moran's Irish gang.
Accompanying Al Capone's hitmen as they terrorized neighborhoods was the young Saul Alinsky, who later adapted their techniques into the political tactic of community organizing.
Since the time of Roman persecutions, Christianity has become the most persecuted faith in the world.
Believers are still inspired by Saint Valentine's
example as he acted out the scripture 'love your enemies...pray for those who mistreat you.'