In the 3rd century, Emperor Claudius II was faced with defending the Roman Empire from the invading Goths.
He believed men who were not married made better soldiers so he forced the military to ban traditional marriage.
He also forced the Senate to deify the former Emperor Gallienus, including him with the Roman gods to be worshiped.
There were ten major persecutions of Christians in the first three centuries in which many historical records were destroyed, but the legend passed down in Legenda Sanctorum by Jacobus de Voragine, 1260, was that Saint Valentine was a priest or bishop in Italy.
When the Emperor demanded the Church violate its conscience and worship pagan idols, Bishop Valentine refused to comply.
Valentine risked the Emperor’s wrath by standing up for traditional marriage and secretly marrying young men and women.
Saint Valentine was arrested, dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and then have his head cut off on FEBRUARY 14, 269AD.
While awaiting execution, the story is he prayed for the jailers’ sick daughter, who miraculously recovered.
He wrote her a note and signed it, “from your Valentine.”
In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated FEBRUARY 14th as “Saint Valentine’s Day.”
The Greek name for Christ, Χριστό, begins with the letter “Chi” written as an “X,” and became an abbreviation for the name of Christ.
This is why X-mas became the abbreviation for Christmas.
In Medieval times, the “X” was called the Christ’s Cross, or as it was later pronounced, “Criss-Cross.”
The Christ’s Cross was a form of a written oath.
Similar to the ancient practice of swearing upon a Bible, saying “so help me God,” then kissing the Bible, people would sign a document next to the Christ’s Cross to swear before God they would keep the agreement, then kiss it to show sincerity.
This practice has come down to us as “sign at the X”, or saying “I swear, cross my heart.”
This is the origin of signing a Valentines’ card with an “X” to express a pledge before God to be faithful, and an “O” to seal the pledge with a kiss of sincerity.
William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.
To learn more about the author please visit William Federer
Featured image: St. Valentine Baptising St. Lucilla, Jacopo Bassano, c. 1500s, oil on canvas,