Saint Valentine, Patron Saint of Lovers and Intimate Gardens
The origin of Saint Valentine’s Day is buried in history and mystery. One historical legend involves the romance between Julius, a young soldier, and the lovely Octavia in the year 270 A.D. during the reign of Claudius II of Rome.
Julius and Octavia wished to marry, but the Emperor forbade his soldiers from marrying because he felt they would not be good soldiers if they had loved ones at home. Saint Valentine, a priest and physician in Rome, did not agree with the Emperor’s philosophy on the issue of marriage and agreed to marry the young couple. Saint Valentine continued to marry other loving couples in secret until he was discovered, at which time he was arrested for disobeying his Emperor.
While he was imprisoned, he is said to have fallen in love with a young woman (possibly his jailer’s daughter) who visited him often. Prior to his death Saint Valentine penned a farewell letter to his young friend and signed it, “from your Valentine” before he was beheaded on February 14th 270 A.D.
Above: Saint Valentine raises his arm to bless the newly married couple (19th Century), painted glass, Bridgeman Art Library.