Getting to the Heart of Valentine's Day

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


February 11, 2019

St Valentine

Image from Alamy

It is widely believed that Valentine was a Roman priest martyred in the third century. Other than this, little else is known about his actual life. One popular legend relates to a ruling by Claudius, a third-century Roman emperor who believed that unmarried men who didn't have to worry about their spouses would make braver, superior soldiers.[1] Because of this belief, Claudius decreed that young males of military age should not be married. In defiance of this ruling, the priest Valentine continued to perform marriage services for young men. Unfortunately, after his secret marriage ceremonies were discovered, he was arrested and sentenced to death.

While languishing in jail, Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter. Shortly before being executed, he sent her a note signed, "From your Valentine." According to this legend, this is the reason why we send so many valentines with this signature line.


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