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The story of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. The Catholic church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus. All of these saints were martyred.
One legend contends a Roman Clergyman, named Valentine was killed for secretly marrying couples in defiance of the emperor, Claudius II. The holiday commemorates the anniversary of his death.
According to the legend Valentine was arrested for this act. While in prison, he was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was know that Valentine had the power of healing. The jailor had a blind daughter he wanted Valentine to help. The legend does not mention how, but it is rumored because of Valentine’s faith, the girl’s sight was restored. Meanwhile, Claudius II met with Valentine and liked him. He tried to get Valentine to agree with his ban on marriages and to convert to the worship of Roman gods. Valentine refused and was sentenced to death. A deep friendship formed between him and the girl. Upon hearing of her friend’s imminent death, she became grief stricken. When Valentine heard, he requested pen and paper from the jailor and signed a farewell message “From your Valentine,” which is an expression still used today on holiday cards.
The story of Valentine emphasizes his appeal as a heroic, sympathetic and romantic figure. He is believed to have been executed February 14, 270 AD.
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February has long been celebrated as a month of love and romance. Here are examples of enduring love:
Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett wrote letters to each other for twenty months before secretly marrying in 1846. One of the best know poems written during their courtship and early marriage was about Barrett’s romance with Browning. The poem was published in Sonnets from the Portuguese. The most famous line of the sonnet is “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England to marry “the perfect woman,” Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. He said in a public radio address, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”
Did you know?
In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making it the second most popular card sending holiday after Christmas. (Hallmark Card research)
Happy Valentine’s Day!