About 225 years after Jesus rose from the dead, some Christians in Rome had trouble with the government. The Roman Emperor Claudius ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and told them they couldn’t talk about Jesus or they would be killed.
But Valentinus, a Roman citizen, loved Jesus Christ and could not be quiet about this love! He was arrested and put into a dark, cold, stinky jail.
The jailer could see that Valentinus was very smart and he asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons.
Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind. She had been blind since birth. Valentinus read stories of Rome’s history to her. He described the world of nature, taught her math and told her about Jesus Christ. She saw the world through his eyes, trusted his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.
“Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?” Julia asked one day.
“Yes, my child, He hears each one.”
“Do you know what I pray for every morning and every night? I pray that I might see. I want so much to see everything you’ve told me about!”
“God does what is best for us if we will only believe in Him,” Valentinus said.
“Oh, Valentinus, I do believe! I do!” She knelt and grasped his hand. They sat quietly together, each praying. Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell. Julia shouted, “Valentinus, I can see! I can see!”
“Praise be to God!” Valentinus exclaimed, and he knelt in a prayer of thanks.
The night before Valentinus died, he wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it, “From your Valentine.”
He was executed the next day, February 14, 270 A.D., near a city gate that Roman citizens later named Porta Valentini in his memory.
Historians have preserved the story that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. And today, Christians in Italy and elsewhere regard the almond tree as a legendary symbol of abiding love and friendship. On each February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, messages of affection, love, and devotion are exchanged around the world.
Story adapted by Jill Carlson from: https://www.olrl.org/lives/valentine.shtml
and read Feb. 14 by our grandson, age 8, during a home schooling lesson in reading and writing.
The citizens of Rome preserved the original Porta Valenti, and maintain it to this day: