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Who was St. Valentine?

St. Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year and, next to Christmas, it is the time when most greeting cards are sent. But who was St Valentine and what did he do to have such a romantic day named after him?

As a priest, Valentine (yep that was his name) loved to marry young couples. Emperor Claudius, who wanted to raise a huge army, passed a law which banned all marriages as he felt that single men were more likely to volunteer for his army.

Valentine disagreed with this and continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies in a small candlelit room with only the bride, groom and himself present. The marriage ceremony was performed in a whisper all the while listening for any sounds of the emperors soldiers.

On most occassions all went well, the marriage ceremony was completed and the happy couple headed off for their life together, however footsteps on the stairs were heard on one occasion. Fortunately the couple who were about to be married escaped, while poor Valentine was caught, thrown into jail and sentenced to death.

During his time in captivity many young people came to visit him, often throwing flowers to his cell window.  One of those visitors was the guards daughter, who allowed her to visit Valentine in his cell, where she would often sit and talk for hours. She agreed with Valentine that he was correct in ignoring the wishes of Emperor Claudius and went ahead with secretly planned marriages.

Valentine was sentenced to die on the 14th February, 269AD and on that day he left his friend, the jailor’s daughter, a thankyou note which he signed ‘Love from your Valentine’

Today, more than 2,000 years after his death, millions of peope declare their love and affection by sending Saint Valentine’s day cards and flowers.

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