A little historical context.
Valentine became famous for marrying couples who were in love but couldn’t get legally married in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, who outlawed weddings. Claudius wanted to recruit lots of men to be soldiers in his army and thought that marriage would be an obstacle to recruiting new soldiers. He also wanted to prevent his existing soldiers from getting married because he thought that marriage would distract them from their work.
When Emperor Claudius discovered that Valentine was performing weddings, he sent Valentine to jail. Valentine used his time in jail to continue to reach out to people with the love that he said Jesus Christ gave him for others.
He befriended his jailer, Asterious, who became so impressed with Valentine’s wisdom that he asked Valentine to help his daughter Julia with her lessons. Julia was blind and needed someone to read material for her to learn it. Valentine then became friends with Julia through his work with her when she came to visit him in jail.
Emperor Claudius also came to like Valentine. He offered to pardon Valentine and set him free if Valentine would renounce his Christian faith and agree to worship the Roman gods. Not only did Valentine refuse to leave his faith, he also encouraged Emperor Claudius to place his trust in Christ. Valentine’s faithful choices cost him his life. Emperor Claudius was so enraged at Valentine’s response that he sentenced Valentine to die.
Before he was killed, Valentine wrote a last note to encourage Julia to stay close to Jesus and to thank her for being his friend. He signed the note: “From your Valentine.” That note inspired people to begin writing their own loving messages to people on Valentine’s Feast Day, February 14th, which is celebrated on the same day on which Valentine was martyred.
Valentine was beaten, stoned, and beheaded on February 14, 270. People who remembered his loving service to many young couples began celebrating his life, and he came to be regarded as a saint through whom God had worked to help people in miraculous ways. By 496, Pope Gelasius designated February 14th as Valentine’s official feast day.
Just a little reminder.