The story of Valentine's Day begins in the third century with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian martyr. The emperor was Claudius II. The Christian was Valentinus.
Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and he had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians. But Valentinus was dedicated to the ideals of Christ, and not even the threat of death could keep him from practicing his beliefs. He was arrested and imprisoned.
During the last weeks of Valentinus's life a remarkable thing happened. Seeing that he was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons. She had been blind since birth. Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind. Valentinus read stories of Rome's history to her. He described the world of nature to her. He taught her arithmetic and told her about God. She saw the world through his eyes, trusted in his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.
"Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?" Julia said one day. "Yes, my child, He hears each one”, he replied.
"Do you know what I pray for every morning and every night? I pray that I might see. I want so much to see everything you've told me about!"
"God does what is best for us if we will only believe in Him," Valentinus said.
"Oh, Valentinus, I do believe," Julia said intensely. "I do." She knelt and grasped his hand. They sat quietly together, each praying.
On the eve of his death, Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God, and he signed it "From Your Valentine." His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory.
When the jailer went home, he was greeted by his little girl. The little girl opened the note and discovered a yellow crocus inside. The message said, "From your Valentine." As the little girl looked down upon the crocus that spilled into her palm she saw brilliant colors for the first time in her life! The girl's eyesight was restored! A miracle!
He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome. It is said that Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. In 496 Pope Gelasius I named February 14 as Saint Valentine's Day. On each Valentine's Day, messages of affection, love and devotion are exchanged around the world.
From the Hallmark Design Collections
Ano Lectivo 2010/11