Valentine’s Day 2008: Feb. 14
Opinions abound as to who was the original Valentine, with the most popular theory that he was a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome. Emperor Claudius II felt that marriage weakened his soldiers. In any event, in A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius set aside Feb. 14 to honor St. Valentine. Through the centuries, the Christian holiday became a time to exchange love messages, and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for sending the first valentine cards in the 1840s. The spirit of love continues today as valentines are sent with sentimental verses, and children exchange valentine cards at school.