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Yes, it turns out there really was a St. Valentinus.
Here is his story as told by Fr. John Bockman:
The Saint Valentine legend is one that strikes this writer as possessing at least a few grains of truth. It is easy to appreciate how the events described could have taken place. Valentinus, the hero of the legend, lived in the time of Claudius Caesar, Emperor of Rome in the second century a.d. Claudius had ordered the entire Roman population to worship twelve pagan gods, and made it a capital crime to associate with Christians. Since Valentinus would not stop practicing his faith, he was arrested and thrown into prison.
Roman prisons were not exactly like modern prisons. Prisoners often had some freedom. The jailer in this case recognized that Valentinus was an honorable man and a learned one too. Therefore he inquired of Valentinus if he would instruct his blind daughter, Julia, who was young and anxious to learn.
Valentinus read stories of Rome to her and described the world of nature which surrounded her. We can be sure, too, that he told her about God. Julia began to see the world through the eyes of Valentinus and found spiritual comfort in his spiritual strength.
Julia wondered if God really hears our prayers, and Valentinus assured her that He does, provided it is for our greater spiritual good. She said she was now praying every morning and night that she might see everything that Valentinus had told her about the world. Then one day as they sat together praying, a brilliant light flashed in Valentinus's cell. Julia shouted, "Valentinus, I can see! I can see!".
On the eve of his martyrdom, Valentinus wrote a letter to his pupil, urging her to stay close to God in prayer. Without any further expression of affection he signed it, "From your Valentinus."
Valentinus, the martyr, gave up his spirit the next day, February 14, 270 a.d., near the gate that was later named Porta Valentini (The Gate of Valentine). His relics were buried in what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome.
Valentinus had written a letter to Julia committing her to Christ. In return, Julia herself is said to have planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his resting place. Today the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship, and the valentine remains a token of affection, love, and devotion.
This is the day that the Lord had made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever and unto the ages of ages, Amen.
Link to one of my cookbooks which should also lead you to the rest of them:
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