February 14 marks one of the most romantic dates on the calendar, a day dedicated to making a special effort to demonstrate the love you have for your partner. For many, however, it's just another Hallmark holiday reminder of consumerism. So how much is love really at the origin of the celebration of Valentine's Day? Let's learn more about the history of this special day.
You might have heard that this special day is celebrated in honor of Saint Valentine, but who is this saint and what was his contribution to the celebration of love that has made him the patron saint of lovers year after year?
Saint Valentine was a priest who performed his service in Rome in the third century during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. At this time, young soldiers had been banned from marrying by decree because the emperor believed that marriage created greater ties for them and therefore caused them to perform worse on the battlefield.
The priest didn't agree with this, and soon became a hero of love because he began to marry young lovers in secret. This act of defiance enraged the emperor, who ordered Saint Valentine be imprisoned to prevent him from continuing to perform marriages without his permission.
An event took place during his imprisonment that helped make the priest's legend even greater. Asterius, the officer in charge of guarding him, challenged him to restore sight to his daughter Julia, who had been blind from birth, in an attempt mock him. Valentine agreed and performed the miracle in the name of the Lord, after which the jailer and his family converted to Christianity. Unfortunately, this act of faith didn't do much to help Saint Valentine's cause, and on February 15, 270 AD, Claudius II martyred him.
During his captivity, Valentine taught the young Julia and fell in love with the girl, to whom he left a farewell note the night before his execution by signing the words: from your Valentine. Legend has it that Julia, in gratitude, planted an almond tree next to his grave as a symbol of love. The body of the saint of love is buried in the Italian city of Terni and couples who wish to demonstrate their love and who hope to soon be married visit his grave every Valentine's Day.
Now that you know a little more about the history of the patron saint of lovers, and knowing that there were times when love was forbidden, don't you think this year is a great time to tell that special someone how you feel and ask him or her to be your Valentine?