Summary: To focus on the significance of love on this Valentineï¿½s day!!!
Every year, the fourteenth day of the month of February has millions across the world presenting their loved ones with candy, flowers, chocolates and other lovely gifts. In many countries, restaurants and eateries are seen to be filled with couples who are eager to celebrate their relationship and the joy of their togetherness through delicious cuisines. There hardly seems to be a young man or woman who is not keen to make the most of the day.The reason behind all of this is a kindly cleric named Valentine who died more than a thousand years ago.
It is not exactly known why the 14th of February is known as Valentine’s Day or if the noble Valentine really had any relation to this day. The history of Valentine’s Day is impossible to be obtained from any archive and the veil of centuries gone by has made the origin behind this day more difficult to trace. It is only some legends that are our source for the history of Valentine’s Day.
The story of St. Valentine has two different versions - the Protestant and the Catholic one. Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of Roman Empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. The Roman Empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and more capable men were required to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius became the Emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers. Fast forward to mid-nineties of the previous century, we had an Indian Cricket Manager-Ajit Wadekar- who also reasoned on more or less same lines and forbade the wives/girlfriends from accompanying the touring Indian cricketers. These made the “Men in Blue” turn “red” in their face with senior Cricketers’ like Kapil Dev voicing their displeasure.
Coming back to St. Valentine…the ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice their protest against the mighty Emperor. The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. How can any devout soul accept the ban which goes against the very tenets’ of the Almighty, who instituted the first marriage in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18-24)? Christ too had attested this truth (Matt 19:4-6).
Seeing the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage, Valentine planned to counter the monarch’s orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But such things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this "friend of lovers," and had him arrested.
While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius’ blind daughter.
When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccessful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.
Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius’ daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friend’s imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lived ever after. Valentine is believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD.