There are stories that serve us as fuel for inspiration for they capture the finer essence of humanity and remain with us as symbols of the things many of us hold dear. Of course the historical authenticity of these tales may lead to endless debate among historians and other such scholars. The story I speak of is that of Saint Valentine, whose day we commemorate every February 14th in the manner of giving Valentine’s day cards along with flowers to that special someone in our lives who draws us to adoration.
The narrative of the Saint Valentine (for there have been many) who lent his name to the day we uphold on the 14th of February took place at the start of the 3rd century in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. It was in his time that the Roman Empire was involved in many an un popular war which like all others required many an able man to fight, however these men were not easy to come by as volunteers were rare.
Many a reason were thought to be the culprit for this lack of desire to join the military by society’s younger males however it was eventually settled upon by Claudius II that marriage was at fault. Logic being that when men marry they long to stay home and have families as opposed to wanting to go to war and perform their duty to the emperor so it was with this in mind that Claudius II instated a law banning all marriages.
It was from the backdrop that was this injustice that a priest who history would dub Saint Valentine would emerge. It being he who by virtue of performing clandestine weddings came out in defiance of this law which many considered excessive and in defense of those who sought to marry the ones their feelings of romance led them to. Saint Valentine would go on to perform many a wedding ceremony for couples who were more than grateful at the service he had performed which no other in Rome would dare to.
It happened however that in spite of all the care taken by Saint Valentine in order not to be discovered that word of his deeds spread to Claudius II who upon hearing of this insolence toward his law had Saint Valentine arrested and brought to trial for disobeying his decree. It was in the trial that ensued Saint Valentine’s arrest that he was found guilty and ordered to be put to death by clubbing.
This perhaps is the point in our story where Saint Valentine became a legend as it was in the time of his imprisonment that he received several flowers and cards from well wishers and happy couples who had been joined in matrimony thanks to this man who now found himself in prison. It was while behind bars and awaiting his execution that one of the jailers who happened to have an unsighted daughter came to hear of Saint Valentine for he was also known as a man who possessed knowledge in the field of medicine.
It was precisely this Jailer (name not recorded by history) who pleaded with Saint Valentine to do what ever was in his power so that his daughter might cease to be sightlessness. Saint Valentine naturally being one whose temperament was generous did not refuse, taking this girl in to his medical treatment whose name is also unknown to the pages of history. It coming about from these daily visits with the intent of being cured that feelings of affection developed between this young lady and Saint Valentine, who many suspected had fallen in love. Such being the closeness of their relationship which though never turned physical saw them share the most intimate aspects of their passion.
Eventually the day arrived on which Saint Valentine’s sentence was to be carried out and perhaps this is where myth takes over our story. As it was Saint Valentine who on that day seeing that he would not be allowed to see the young lady who had come to be his friend one last time wrote a letter of farewell to be handed to her.
As for this letter, its exact contacts are neither known nor of consequence being our imagination can tell us its general concept based upon what we know of the relationship that existed between Saint Valentine and this girl who till today remains unnamed. However though it can be stated that the precise words used in this message bear no importance the same would not hold as truth for the manner in which it was signed with the words “your Valentine”.
It is believed by those whose souls are infused with romance that upon receiving this letter this young lady who up an till that moment in her life had been blind became sighted. Such being the devotion in this letter that allowed her to feel how ardently she was loved by this man who would go on to be known as the patron Saint of those who find themselves swathed in love’s harmony.
On the 14th of February, 229 A.D. (same day he wrote his now famous letter) Saint Valentine himself went on to be clubbed to death after which he was beheaded with his hands being severed from his body. The Romans doing on to him what they had done on to Cicero some centuries before. Executing Saint Valentine however proved a much simpler matter than killing what he represented for this was what non could accomplish. This past statement holding true as close to 1,800 are the years that have passed since his death and Saint Valentine is not only remembered but his day is celebrated through out the world by couples who send each other cards which they like he so many years ago sign “your Valentine”. Perhaps they follow this tradition along with several others not even knowing from where of they originate or who Saint Valentine really was. For my part however I see not where this matters for if those who uphold Valentine’s day kindle within the same feelings held by Saint Valentine for their beloved does this not suffice?