By: Paige Fluent

There are still some mysteries surrounding the history of the holiday and the true saint it is named after. However, one of the most popular theories is the Legend of St. Valentine. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century (died around A.D. 270) in Rome. Emperor Claudius II of Rome (r. 268–270) decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. He then outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine believed this decree was unfair. He decided to defy Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young couples in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Another popular theory is that Valentine may have been put to death for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. Some believe while Valentine was imprisoned, he sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is believed that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” which is where the expression still used today comes from. 

Though it is still unclear as to which “Valentine” the holiday is named after, Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine on February 14th in different years in the third century. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th.