There are many, many legends about the man who formed the basis of the Valentine story. Most of those legends insist that St. Valentine was executed on February 14, many, many years ago. All of them insist that St. Valentine believed in love and had the faith to continue carrying out what he believed to be right in spite of what was going on around him. He was a Christian; and even in the face of certain death, he continued to do what God had called him to do, rather than following the letter of the law.
One of the most popular legends states that Emperor Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than those who had wives at home. He decreed that none of the young men in all of Rome were to be married under any circumstances.
Valentine continued marrying them anyway. He was a Christian, and believed that God had ordained marriage. He carried out the marriages in secret places so that the soldiers wouldn’t find out—but of course, eventually, they did. When he was discovered, he was imprisoned and sentenced to execution.
However—as is fitting for a man who believed so deeply in love—during his imprisonment, Valentine was visited by a young lady. Some say it was his jailor’s daughter; others do not identify her. Whatever the case, Valentine fell in love with her, and she with him. Just before his execution, he sent her a letter that was signed, “From your Valentine.”
Of course, no one knows the truth of the legend. Each story is a little bit different from the last; and most authors put their own spin on it. Choose your favorite version of the legend and find a few minutes to read it to your kids sometime this month. Explain to them that this is the reason for the celebration of love on Valentine’s Day.