For those of you who don't know the story behind Valentine's day, here is some background thanks to the Sunday School directors at my church sharing this with me. I really enjoyed it so thought I would pass it on.
The story of Valentine's Day begins in the 3rd 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 12 gods, and he had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians. But Valentinus was dedicated to serving Christ, and not event he threat of death could keep him from following the Savior. He was therefore arrested and imprisioned.
During the last weeks of Valentinus' 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 told 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 his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.
"Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?" Julia asked one day. "Yes my child, He hears each one, " he replied.
"Do you know what I pray for every morning an devery night?? I pray that I might see. I want so much to see everything you have told me about."
"God does what is best for us if we put our trust in Him," Valentinus said.
"Oh, Valentinus, I do believe in Him," Julia said intensely. "I do." She knelt and grasped his hand. They sat quietly together praying when suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell. Radiant, Julia shouted, "Valentinus, I can see! I can see!"
"Praise be to God" Valentinus exclaimed, and they knelt to thank God.
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 the gate that was later named Prota Valentini in his memory.