Many legends are attributed to this mysterious saint. It is told Valentine attempted to convert Roman Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. In a rage, Claudius demanded he renounce his faith or be beaten and beheaded. St. Valentine refused and was imprisoned. While there he healed the jailer's blind daughter. On his execution day, he left the girl a note signed, "Your Valentine."
Since that first Valentine message, lovers have recited or sang romantic valentine verses, and writers of love songs and poetry have been in demand. Credit for the first modern day Valentine is attributed to Charles, Duke of Orleans, who, while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415, wrote romantic verses meant for his wife in France.
In the early 1700s, the exchange of cards became popular in America when Valentine "writers" booklets, a collection of verses and messages that could be copied onto decorative paper, were published in England. Some booklets contained not only verses to send, but also the answers to return.
In the late 1700s, valentines offered religious messages. The Sacred Heart and Angels depicted on those cards evolved into Valentine hearts and cupids. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” began selling mass produced valentines in America. Now, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.