The Tale of St. Valentine

Commemorate the day of love with a classic tale of romance. With scrumptious sweets on hand, discover the story behind Valentine’s Day to make your celebration one to remember.


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It is surprising that Hollywood hasn’t pounced on the legend of the amorous maverick St. Valentine. While there are many versions of the tale, there is one that includes mystery, intrigue and romantic heroism. The quick summary goes as follows: Back in those uptight Roman times, Emperor Claudius II was not an advocate of marriage. Husbands, thought Claudius, were noncommittal warriors, better put to work at war than at the household, so he placed a ban on marriage. What fun is courtship when thoughts of proposals, weddings and a lifelong partner are omitted from the equation?

Private outrage ensued over Claudius’ ban on love, and one vehement opponent, a bishop by the name of Valentine, took action by encouraging unions to continue. In no time, lovers came to Valentine so they could be married in secret. Upon discovery of his acts, Claudius imprisoned Valentine and eventually sentenced him to death. Confinement in jail wasn’t enough to keep Valentine from his call of love. Valentine also had a reputation for possessing the power to help others heal; his jailor, upon hearing these rumors, swiftly connected Valentine with his blind daughter. It is said that Valentine did cure the jailor’s daughter in some way—whether from strong belief or devotion, is not clear. However, it seemed that Valentine had more than a medical interest in the jailor’s daughter, as the two became paramours.

Before his execution, Valentine requested a pen and paper, to which he wrote “From Your Valentine” to the jailor’s daughter. Valentine became a saint for not renouncing his religion, and St. Valentine’s Day marks the day he is reported to have been executed.


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Thus, the tale has all the makings of a record-breaking Hollywood weekend: rebellion, love and great costuming. It is also a marketing phenomenon: flutes of pink champagne, gifts, cards, cards, and more cards.

This holiday is at its best when we stay true to its origin rather than fixate on the goods. As is true with all commercial holidays, focus on its meaning. Consider the kind of love one must have to meet secretly, even die for—cinematic indeed. It’s always best to visit the past for a classic interpretation on a time to celebrate.

Surround yourself with affection this day and remember Valentine, the ultimate martyr for love.

Written and photographed by Jacqueline deMontravel
Produced by Diane Sedo

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