The Romantic Legend of Saint Valentine
One legend contends Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men.
Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered he be put to death.
While imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young blind girl who was his jailor’s daughter. This girl visited him during his confinement. The miracle was that the young blind girl was able to see after Valentine died.
Before his death, he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and most importantly romantic figure.