he history of
Saint Valentine's Day
goes back to the 3rd century.
At that time, the Roman Empire was being invaded by Goths.
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.
Roman Emperor Claudius II needed more soldiers to fight the invading Goths.
He believed that men fought better if they were not married, so he banned traditional marriage in the military.
was also torn from internal rivalries which continued since the assassination of
the previous Emperor, Gallienus
Emperor Claudius II
quelled these tensions by requesting the Roman Senate deify
so as to be worshiped along with the other Roman gods.
Citizens were forced to worship the Roman gods and deified emperors by placing a pinch of incense on a fire before their statues.
Those who refused worship of the Roman gods were considered "politically incorrect" or "unpatriotic" enemies of the state and killed.
persecution specifically 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.
Tragically, such accounts of
persecution of Christians
continued through the centuries up to today's atrocities in communist and fundamentalist Islamic countries.
Persecutions included the confiscation and destruction of Christian writings, scriptures and historical records.
Because so many records were destroyed, details of Saint Valentine's life are scant.
What little is know was written first in the
Saint Valentine is also mentioned in L
by Jacobus de Voragine in 1260 and in the
Though several individuals had that name, it appears 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.
demanded that Christians deny their consciences and worship pagan idols,
was arrested, dragged before the Prefect of Rome, and condemned him to die.
While awaiting execution, his jailer, Asterius, asked
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,
wrote a note to the jailer's daughter, signing it,
"from your 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."
American Minute-Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred
In the High Middle Ages,
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."
About 90 percent of
Many mate for life, such as varieties of: Swans, Canada Geese, Ravens, Cranes, Blue Jays, Barn Owls, Red-Tailed Hawks, Woodpeckers, Ospreys, Raptors, Penquins and Bald Eagles,
After elaborate courtships, depending on their species, these
birds remain together until one partner dies.
Birds that mate for life have offspring that require more extensive care and instruction from parents. They are able to mate earlier in the season which allows their young more time to develop before the fall and winter seasons of long migrations or harsh winter weather.
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 greeting cards.
People often sign
with X's and O's.
The Greek name for Christ,
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 "Criss-Cross Row" was the way colonial school children learned the alphabet, where they would start at the X and say "May Christ's Cross grant me speed (success)" and then proceed to recite the 26 letters.
It reminded students that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"
"Mortals ne'er shall know
More than contained of old the Chris'-cross row."
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,
"O" to seal the pledge with a kiss of sincerity.
History is intertwined with Valentines references:
was born a slave and separated from his mother as a child. All he remembers is her calling him,
"my little valentine."
wife and mother died on Valentine's Day in 1884.
Depressed, Roosevelt dropped out of New York politics, left his infant daughter with a relative, and went off to ranch in the Dakotas.
St. Valentine's Day Massacre
during the Prohibition era.
Al Capone's Chicago mob
murdered seven members of
Bugs Moran's Irish gang.
as he terrorized neighborhoods was the young
who later adapted this technique into the political tactic of community organizing.
Saul Alinsky wrote in
Rules for Radicals
"The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community ... stir up dissatisfaction and discontent ... search out controversy and issues ... fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression ... For unless there is controversy, the people are not motivated enough to act."
Since the Roman persecutions,
Christianity has become the most persecuted faith in the world,
with over 300 being martyred each day, or one every five minutes, predominantly in Muslim and communist countries.
Easton's Bible Dictionary
explains that the Greek word for "martyr" is translated into English as "witness."
Acts 1:8 recorded Jesus' words to His followers:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be
unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
willingness to be a
martyr for Christ
and his heroic, loving example still inspires believers to follow the scripture:
Matthew 5:44 "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."
John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."