By Bill Federer
There were ten major persecutions of Christians in the first three centuries in which many historical records were destroyed, but the legend passed down in Legenda Sanctorum by Jacobus de Voragine, 1260, was that Saint Valentine was a priest or bishop in Italy.
When the Emperor demanded the Church violate its conscience and worship pagan idols, Bishop Valentine refused to comply.
Valentine risked the Emperor’s wrath by standing up for traditional marriage and secretly marrying young men and women.
Saint Valentine was arrested, dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and then have his head cut off on FEBRUARY 14, 269AD.
While awaiting execution, the story is he prayed for the jailers’ sick daughter, who miraculously recovered.
He wrote her a note and signed it, “from your Valentine.”
In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated FEBRUARY 14th as “Saint Valentine’s Day.”
The Greek name for Christ, Χριστός begins with the letter “Chi” written as an “X,” and became an abbreviation for the name of Christ.
In Medieval times, the “X” was called the Christ’s Cross, or as it was later pronounced, “Criss-Cross.”
The Christ’s Cross was a form of a written oath.
Similar to the ancient practice of swearing upon a Bible, saying “so help me God,” then kissing the Bible, people would sign a document next to the Christ’s Cross to swear before God they would keep the agreement, then kissed it to show sincerity.
This practice has come down to us as “sign at the X”, or “crossing one’s heart.”
This is the origin of signing a Valentines’ card with an “X” to express a pledge before God to be faithful, and an “O” to seal the pledge with a kiss of sincerity.