Valentine's Day today is a worldwide phenomenon -- straddling continents, cutting across cultures and transcending traditional beliefs. Quite simply, it has the world in its grip -- love does make the world go round! But, did you know that this celebration of love and romance has its genesis in a rather macabre event? No? Then, read on...
Fanciful legends surround the origin of Valentine's Day, adding to its mystique. But the one that seems to have the most acceptance is that this day was actually the martyrdom day of Saint Valentine. He was a fearless Christian priest who dared to challenge a mighty Roman Emperor, way back in the 3rd century A.D.
Saint Valentine was a priest in the empire of Claudius II. The latter had sounded the death knell for young lovers and married couples with a rather peculiar decree. Fearing that loyalty to their families would supersede loyalty towards the empire, and thus leave him with an impoverished army, Claudius II ordered that every marriage and engagement in Rome be declared null and void.
Since when has Love bowed down to dictates and threats? Valentine, (it would be a few centuries before he would be canonised), feeling sorry for the plight of the young men and women -- and uncaring for his own safety -- secretly married hundreds of couples. It was not long before the news of this 'treachery' reached Claudius. Enraged at being thus defied, he threw the hapless Valentine into the dungeons and ordered to have him executed. It was in his cold and dingy prison that love and hope entered Valentine's life. The gaol keeper's daughter befriended him and it is believed that he, too, reciprocated her feelings. Just before he was led away to be beheaded, he wrote her a hastily scribbled note, singed as 'from your valentine'. The date was 14th February, 270 A.D.
Valentine's death did not go in vain. His courageous act spurred lovers down the centuries to celebrate his martyrdom day as the day to express love for the one they secretly admired and liked. And, although more than seventeen hundred years have passed, the custom of exchanging love and friendship messages on 14th February each year has endured! Later, Saint Valentine became the Patron Saint of this date!
For your listening pleasure..
"To Make You Feel My Love"