On Feb. 14, 278 A.D., Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. In order to facilitate the raising of an army for his unpopular military campaigns, the emperor outlawed all marriages and engagements. Valentine defied Claudius’s order and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Once discovered, Valentine was arrested and condemned by the Prefect of Rome to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14. Valentine was named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church after his death.
Though February 14th is celebrated as “St. Valentine’s Day,” in today’s vernacular, the 14th of February, 278, was, ahem, “not his day.”