He was a priest in Rome.
No, he was a bishop in Interamna (now the region of Terni, Italy).
No, he was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
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There’s a lot of confusion, actually, about St. Valentine, whose feast we celebrate today.
The most popular legend places Valentine near Rome in the third century, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius III (nicknamed Claudius the Cruel). According to the story, Claudius sought to expand the Roman Empire, and so needed a strong army to conquer new settlements. He was having trouble getting soldiers to join his military forces; and Claudius believed that this was because young men were unwilling to leave their wives and families. Therefore, the Emperor banned all marriages and engagements in Rome.
In stepped Valentine, a holy priest. Seeing the injustice of Claudius’ decree, Valentine defied the Emperor and continued to secretly marry young lovers. For this, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and brought before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned the priest to death.
While in prison awaiting his execution, Valentine wrote letters—including one to the daughter of the prison guard. So developed the custom of sending “Valentines” or love letters on the saint’s feast day.
And thus began the custom of sending valentines to your sweetheart on this day. Here, one of the funnier memes circulating the web this morning: Valentines for Puritans.
Love and kisses,