From Your Valentine

Have you ever wondered where the phrase, “From your Valentine” originated? 

While there are many historical and mythical accounts, there is one that I believe deserves to be told above all the rest, and you be the judge of whether it bears repeating for generations to come.

As legend has it, and according to Encyclopedia Britannica, “From your Valentine” was signed at the bottom of a short letter that was written to a young lady named Julia on the evening of February 13, 269 AD. 

As the story goes, Julia was a blind foster daughter of the jailer who was holding Priest Valentine as he awaited execution.

Priest Valentine was serving time in prison awaiting his execution by Aurelius Claudius Gothicus, commonly known as Claudius II or Claudius the Cruel. At the time, Roman law was forbidding men to marry because of the belief that love weakened warriors who were needed to battle at war. Valentine didn’t agree with this law, and continued to perform weddings for young lovers. Due to his defiance of the law, he was put in jail.

During his arrest Valentine was personally interrogated by Claudius, and told to convert to Paganism and deny his Christian faith. Valentine remained true to his faith and continued to try and convert those around him to Christianity. 

While in prison, the jailer whose name was Asterius, learned about Valentine who also had a reputation for healing the sick. Just hours before Valentine’s execution, Asterius asked him to perform a healing blessing on his blind daughter Julia. 

Per Asterius’ request, Valentine laid his hands over Julia’s eyes and prayed “Lord Jesus Christ, enlighten your handmaid, because you are God the true light.” Following the prayer, Julia regained her sight. Due to the miraculousness of the prayer, Asterius and his entire family became members of the Christian faith. Even with his supposed healing powers, Priest Valentine was executed the next day, February 14, when he was just 42 years old.  

When Claudius learned of the baptism of Asterius and his family, he ordered the execution of them. 

Behind what has become Valentine’s Day, a day that highlights love, is a tragic story of a man sacrificing his life for the right for young love to prevail. 

In this story, Priest Valentine is remembered as an advocate for love. His final letter to Julia signed,  “From your Valentine” is the classic love message from one to another, and is synonymous with giving a precious gift to a loved one. 

The feast of Valentines Day on February 14 was first established in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius. 

A simple note from Valentine to Julia is said to be the origin of today’s Valentines’ Day cards. So, in memory of Priest Valentine, spread some love to your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

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