introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome
during the third century. That was long, long ago!
At that time, Rome
was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn't
like Emperor Claudius,
and I wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared
to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to
join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars.
They did not want to
leave their wives and families. As you might have
guessed, not many men
signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what
happened? He had a crazy
idea. He thought that if men were not married, they
would not mind
joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow
any more marriages.
Young people thought his new law was cruel. I
thought it was
preposterous! I certainly wasn't going to support
Did I mention that I was a priest? One
of my favourite activities
was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius
passed his law, I
kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly,
of course. It was
really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit
room with only the
bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the
words of the ceremony,
listening all the while for the steps of
One night, we did hear footsteps. It
was scary! Thank goodness the
couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was
caught. (Not quite as
light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was
thrown in jail and
told that my punishment was death.
I tried to stay
cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things
happened. Many young people came to the jail to
visit me. They threw
flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me
to know that they,
too, believed in love.
One of these
young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her
father allowed her to visit me in the cell.
Sometimes we would sit and
talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits
up. She agreed that I
did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and
going ahead with the
secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left
my friend a little
note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty.
I signed it, "Love
from your Valentine."
I believe that note started the custom
of exchanging love messages
on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day I
died, February 14, 269
A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember.
importantly, they think about love and friendship.
And when they think
of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to
stand in the way of
love, and they laugh -- because they know that love