St. Valentine

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St ValentineSt. Valentine was the first person to write a love letter signed, "From your Valentine." He did this in prison on the eve of February 14th, in the year 270 AD. This is his story.

Like many of the saints. St. Valentine met an early end. He was a martyr or "witness" of his Christian faith. Despite this, the saints' stories manage to be inspiring rather than tragic. As Natasha says in the introduction, all of their lives sum up a certain special something.

On a lighter note, you may also enjoy our Bertie Valentine story.

Proofread by Claire Deakin. Read by Natasha. Duration 5.45.

2000 years ago, the most powerful army in the world belonged to the Romans. The Romans were so strong that they conquered almost all of Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. Then they began to grow rich and a little bit lazy. Life in the army was harsh, and many of the soldiers longed for the comforts of home. They wanted to get married and set up families. The Emperor, whose name was Claudius the Second, was worried that his army was growing soft; so he made a law that no soldier was allowed to get married.

By that time, many of the Romans were Christians - and one of their leaders was a Bishop called Valentine.

He believed that if a man and woman fell in love with each other, they should get married – and so he decided to let soldiers get married in his church, even though it was now against the law. The soldiers’ weddings were meant to be kept secret, but as you know, all secrets are hard to keep, and soon the word got out. Valentine was arrested and brought before the emperor who demanded that he stop helping soldiers to marry, and instead that he pray to the gods of Rome. When he refused, the emperor sentenced him to death.

While Valentine was in prison, the jailer’s daughter used to bring him his food. She was a young woman who unfortunately was blind. She and Valentine used to spend long hours talking to each other, and they fell in love. One day, Valentine put his hand through the bars of his cell and touched the lids of her closed eyes. When she opened them again, she could see. It was a miracle.

Valentine’s execution was set for February the 14th. On his last night on earth, he wrote his final message to the girl. He signed his love letter, “From your Valentine”. This took place in the year 270, and ever since, lovers have sent each other messages on February the 14th with the same signature.

And that’s the story of St. Valentine. Bertie told me another piece of interesting information about the history for St. Valentine’s day.

In the year 1415, while the French Duke of Orleans was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he wrote a Valentine’s Day poem to his wife.

It began:

On St. Valentine’s day, the lovely sun,
Carrying along its lighted candle,
Made its way that fine dawn, not long ago,
Into my locked chamber, all in secret.

I hope that every February 14th, you receive a special Valentine’s card. But if you don’t, don’t feel left out. One day you will find your true love. That I’m sure of.