February 14 is St. Valentine’s Day. This day has come to mean flowers, gifts and candle light for lovebirds, crispy little hearts and cards for grade-schoolers, and bitterness for those left behind. However, the name behind the mushy cards, flower and gifts sales belonged to a few separate godly men who served Christ early in Church history. At least three different martyrs (sufferers) named Valentine are mentioned in the early metrologies under the date of February 14.
At least two Valentines were martyred under Roman Emperor Claudius II (AD 268 – 270), who is known for his sound beating of the Goths. The majority of his reign was spent at war and fighting rebellion and opposition. His devotion to conquering led the Emperor to declare that no young men of fighting age could be married; they needed to be focused on being soldiers. Yet, according to tradition, a Christian pastor named Valentine opposed Claudius’ decree and married young Roman soldiers in secret. When this illegal activity was discovered, Valentine was killed.
St. Valentine’s Day, while honoring the saints who were martyred near that day, was not it seems that associated with romantic love until the time of Chaucer. In Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fouls” composed around 1380, he stated: For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day When every foul cometh there to choose his mate.