Saint Valentine: the real story

Many of us know the gist of the Valentine story, but I suspect most (myself included until today) don't have it to the end. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers. He lived in a dark & perilous time, in 3rd Century Roman Empire, under the rule of Claudius II (a.k.a. Claudius the Cruel). Dear Claudius had some wild ideas. He was against & actively persecute Christians & their one-God belief system. He was also finding it difficult recruiting soldiers. He missed the point that maybe the problem was him & the wars he chose to fight & decided it would be best to ban marriages between young people. He believed this not only would attract more soldiers (them being single & all) but also, that the soldiers would be better as they'd have no one at home to worry about. 

*this image is not mine

*this image is not mine

Claudius should have known better. You can't fight love (Lord knows we've all tried). Where there's a will there's a way & early century Roman lovers found a way. Valentinus was a Catholic priest who would not bow to the tyranny. Partly because he believed in love & partly because he wanted more young people married through the church, he continued to perform the ceremony in secret. 

These would include himself & the couple, in a dark room lit only by one candle. They whispered & listened for soldiers all the long. One day, his luck ran out & while performing a marriage, he was caught (though the young couple managed to escape). He was thrown in prison to await his end. While incarcerated, it is said, young people tossed flowers, notes, & treats through his cell window to keep up his spirits (right!). 

One of his guards, had a young, bright daughter. Her name is unknown, but she was blind & her father, Asterius, was a good man. There are a few different accounts come this part of the story. One is that the girl's father wanted her to have an education & that Valentines became her tutor - that she came to see the world through his eyes. The other is that he fell in love with her & she was his one great love. What stories seem to agree on however is that Asterius (&/or his daughter) asked Valentinus to heel her & after he sat & prayed with her on many occasions, she gained her sight. 

Aterius converted to Christianity as did many others within the prison. This upset Claudius & he finally decided to torture & execute Valentinus. As Valentine was on his way out to be beheaded, on February 14, 278 (approx.), he left one last note for his student/love, which was signed,  From Your Valentine.