St. Valentine was a Priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time the Roman Emperor was Claudius II, who has come to be known throughout history as Claudius the Cruel. Around this time Claudius started persecuting and imprisoning Christians for not worshiping the Roman gods.
Claudius began calling for all the able-bodied men to go into battle with him, and year after year the fighting continued. Many of the Romans, however, were unwilling to go. The married men did not want to leave their families. The younger men did not wish to leave their sweethearts. And the emperor soon became angry when he saw that the number of soldiers were too few. And so, to free the young men from the burdens of marriage so that they would be free to go to war, he ordered that no marriages should be celebrated and that all engagements must be broken off immediately.
Now, Valentine heard of the emperor's command and felt it was a wrong command. So, when a young couple came to the Church, he secretly united them in Christian marriage. Soon afterwards another young couple came to him, and he secretly married them as well. It wasn't long before the word spread, and others came and were quietly married. Valentine soon gained a reputation as a friend of lovers and sweethearts in every district of Rome, but it's hard to keep a secret like that for very long. Claudius, the Emperor had recently started a campaign of persecution against the Christians, and here was one of their Priests even disobeying his command.
Not only was Valentine helping young sweethearts get married, he was also known for helping other Christians escape before they could be sent to their death by Claudius. So Claudius sent out soldiers to find Valentine, which they did.
During the trial the Emperor tried to get Valentine to renounce his faith in Christ, and to pledge allegiance to the Roman gods Jupiter and Mercury. If he did that, then the Emperor would free Valentine. But Valentine replied that they were false gods and that the God that Jesus called Father was the only true God. So the Romans threw him in prison.
While in prison Valentine continued to minister to anyone he could. Like St. Paul the Apostle, who had been in a prison in that same city many years earlier, Valentine witnessed to the guards. One of the guards, a man by the name of Asterius, was a good man who had adopted a blind girl many years earlier when she was just a little child. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed for her, and God healed the girl, and restored her sight. Because of that, the guard and his whole family - all his relatives that were living in that area - 46 people - believed in Christ and were baptized.
When the emperor heard about this he was furious that Valentine was still making converts even in the prison, and so he decided to put an end to the work that Valentine was doing by having him tortured and beaten with clubs, and then afterwards had him beheaded. The date was Feb. 14, in the year 270 A.D.
History tells us that while Valentine was waiting for his own execution he fell in love with the jailer's daughter that had been healed. Being in prison, he was unable to spend much time with her, or pursue a normal relationship. Just before he was led out to his execution, he managed to write one last note to her, a farewell message, and he signed it.... "From Your Valentine."
Valentine's Day may seem like a lot of commercial hype to get you to spend money and today (February 13th, is National Break-Up day), but in reality, it's a celebration of forbidden love and a man who sacrificed his life to make sure others could have it. He never got to share his love with the woman that stole his heart, so at least buy a card, re-tell his tale and remember it is a day about love and really showing it because life is too short for regrets!