St. ValentineThere are several early Christian saints named Valentinus. I must insert here the fact that, in my wife's family history, the name Valentine Van Huss appears often, a name passed down thorough several generations in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Perhaps the most popular St. Valentine is the 3rd century Valentinus who was martyred for ministering to persecuted Christians and performing marriage ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden to marry during their long 20 year service. Valentinus was executed on the Via Flaminia on February the 14th. Legend is that the night before his execution, he sent a note to the daughter of his jailer, who he cured of blindness, closing the note with the salutation, "from your Valentine".
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 - 1400), writing in The Parliament of Fowles (The Gathering of Birds), is credited with popularizing the celebration of St. Valentine's Day.
... And in a launde (land), upon an hille of floures (flowers),
Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
Of braunches were hir (her) halles and hir boures (bowers/shady places),
Y-wrought (There wrought) after hir craft and hir mesure;
Ne ther nas foul (fowl/bird) that cometh of engendrure (engendered/created),
That they ne were prest (pressed) in hir presence,
To take hir doom and yeve (give) hir audience.
For this was seynt on Valentynes day,
Whan every foul (fowl/bird) cometh ther to chese (choose) his make (mate),
Of every kinde, that men thenke (think) may;
And that so huge a noyse gan (going) they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe (with difficulty) was ther space
For me to stonde (stand), so ful was al (all) the place....