In the 3rd Century A.D., Emperor Claudius II was faced with defending the Roman Empire from invading Goths. He believed single men made better soldiers so he temporarily forbade marriage. Claudius also forced the Senate to deify the former Emperor Gallienus, including him with the Roman gods to be worshipped.
Legend has it that Saint Valentine was a bishop in Italy who risked the Emperor’s wrath by refusing to worship idols and for secretly marrying young couples. Saint Valentine was dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and have his head cut off on February 14, 296 A.D. While awaiting execution, it is said he prayed for the jailer’s sick daughter, who miraculously recovered. He wrote her a note and signed it, “from your Valentine.”
In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius designated February 14th as “Saint Valentine’s Day.” Signing an X for a kiss began in Medieval times where those who could not write their name marked a criss-cross or “Christ’s cross” in the presence of witnesses and kissed it to show sincerity as a form of the oath “so help me God.” In the Greek alphabet, X is called Chi, and it is the first letter of the Greek name of Christ, giving rise to the use of X-mas for Christmas.