St Valentine was a priest in Rome at the time of Emperor Claudius II. His association with young lovers is well known even in modern times. The story goes that Claudius, urgent to recruit soldiers for his armies, decreed that all weddings be suspended so as to encourage more single, unfamilied men to serve in combat. Seeing the anguish of the young couples forbidden to marry, St Valentine allegedly performed secret weddings in defiance of the Emperor.
Another legend holds that while awaiting his execution, St Valentine restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. On the eve of his death, he is reported to have penned a farewell note to the young girl signing it, “From your Valentine”.
He was beheaded on February 14, 269 AD and buried on the Flaminian Way where archaeologists have unearthed a catacomb and an ancient church dedicated in his name. He is the Patron Saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, love and lovers.
We celebrate today not only the love shared by those couples among us, but also the love of the Great Lover, Jesus. Christ, our bridegroom, invites us to join him in an everlasting covenant; an eternal love union that is reflected in the love of each and every dedicated married couple.