You probably know that Valentine’s Day commemorates the death of St. Valentine, who was executed by Emperor Claudius II on February 14 sometime in the 3rd century. But you probably don’t know why he was sentenced to death. According to ReadersDigest.com, “the most popular [legend] says he was a priest who married young couples after Claudius outlawed marriage for young men. (Apparently, they were better soldiers when they weren’t romantically attached.) Another says he helped save Catholics who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
“However, the holiday may have been promoted to overshadow the pagan festival Lupercalia. Between February 13 and 15, Romans celebrated by sacrificing a goat and a dog and whipping women with their hides. Crude as it may seem, people believed this made women more fertile, and women actually lined up to get slapped with bloody hides. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I outlawed Lupercalia and officially declared February 14 Valentine’s Day.”