Who was Saint Valentine?
St Valentine was a priest from Rome who lived in the third century, thought to have died around 270 AD.
At the time, Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages as he thought single men made better soldiers.
Being a romantic chap, St Valentine was arranging and performing marriages in secret so couples could still celebrate their love.
Unfortunately, the Emperor got wind of this and imprisoned Valentine, sentencing him to death for his crime.
One account suggests that, whilst imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and on the day of his execution (February 14th) he sent her a love letter signed ‘from your Valentine.’
February 14th was the feast date of at least three different martyrs named St. Valentine, and, in the Middle Ages, over fifty St. Valentines were celebrated over the course of the year. One of these, a Roman priest, has inspired several legends, all of which arose long after his death. According to one, he was sentenced to death in pagan Rome for encouraging young people to marry within the Christian Church. Before his execution, the story goes, he sent a letter to a young woman whom he had cured of blindness, signing the missive “from your Valentine.”
In 1381, Geoffrey Chaucer made the first recorded connection between St. Valentine’s Day and love in his poem “The Parliament of Fowls,” identifying the day as the time when “every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” French and English writers of the 14th and 15th centuries also allude to the day as one reserved for lovers. Manufactured Valentine’s Day cards first appeared in England in the 1800s, and by 1835, over 60,000 Valentine’s Day cardswere being sent in England alone.
Who wrote the first valentine?
This last-minute written declaration of love was handed off to the object of Valentine’s affection, and it was signed, ‘from your Valentine,’ thus beginning the tradition of love notes known as valentines and the practice of calling one’s sweetheart by the same name. Excluded from the practice, fortunately, is what happened to St. Valentine after he passed this note to his love: he was beheaded.
What are some fun facts about Valentine’s Day?
“Valentinus” is derived from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful. Because of this, “Valentinus” became a popular name for several martyrs between the second and eighth centuries A.D. The official list of Catholic martyrs recognizes approximately a dozen with name of Valentine or some type of variation. One was even a Pope.
In the Catholic Church, saints are held to have a range of spiritual responsibilities. Believers ask St. Valentine to watch over the lives of lovers. He is also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.
Some credit Geoffrey Chaucer, the medieval English poet, with inventing the Valentine’s Day that people celebrate today. In around 1375, Chaucer’s poem “Parliament of Foules” spoke about a tradition of love in association with the celebration of the St. Valentine’s Day feast. Before this work, there were no known records of Valentine’s Day.
The United States, Canada, Mexico, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom all celebrate Valentine’s Day. Americans began exchanging Valentine’s Day cards in the early 1700s when Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced cards. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”