Claudius wanted a big army and expected men to volunteer to join, but many men didn’t want to leave their wives and families to fight in wars. This made Claudius furious and he decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought this cruel, and I thought it preposterous.
One of my favorite duties was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly, of course. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers. And one night the steps came. Terror rippled through us. Thank goodness the young couple escaped in time. I was not so fortunate and thrown in jail, sentenced to death.
Wonderful things began to happen. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love. One of these young people who visited regularly, the daughter of the prison guard, helped to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I had done right in defying the emperor and performing secret marriages.
On the day I was to die, February 14, 269 A.D., I left my friend a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from your Valentine." I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. Now, every year, people remember and think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love can't be beaten!
**Paraphrased from http://www.pictureframes.co.uk/pages/saint_valentine.htm