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How exactly did Valentine’s Day come to be?

It began with Emperor Claudius II of Rome, who in the third century ordered the priest Valentinus beheaded for converting Romans to Christianity and defying his ban against the marriage of Roman soldiers. For these offenses, Valentinus was jailed, and while behind bars he is said to have restored the sight of the jailer’s blind daughter. On the eve of his execution, he penned her a farewell note signed “Your Valentine.”

“And that,” writes Rosin for the Ephemera Society Web site, “is believed to have been the very first valentine.” Some two centuries later, Pope Gelasius I proclaimed Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. It coincided with the pagan fertility feast of Lupercalia, when young men drew lots to accompany young women to revels, says Stegall. This holy day, he contends, was the Catholic Church’s attempt to “usurp” the raunchy romp.

As usual, those damn Christians stickin’ it to us again!

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