Many are the tales of St. Valentine, the third-century priest martyred on February 14—what we now know as Valentine’s Day. Records from that period of Roman history, the so-called Age of Chaos, are spotty, but this is what has been handed down to us:
In the year 268 CE, Caesar Marcus Aurelius Claudius Augustus, known as Claudius Gothicus, assumed the Roman throne. Desperate for fresh army recruits, he decreed that young men remain unmarried; hoping that without the frivolous distraction of courtship, more of them would become soldiers. Enter that incarnation of romantic love, St. Valentine. Defying the new Emperor’s orders, Valentine performed secret marriages in the underground Christian community. He was soon discovered, arrested, and sentenced to death. Legend has it that just before his execution, he sent a letter to the jailer's daughter, whom he had befriended, which he signed "from your Valentine"—the origin of the modern custom. On February 14, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate, but his heart beat on; his Feast Day was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496.
This rare coin was struck during the brief reign of Claudius Gothicus, who died of smallpox in 270. Although he won an historic victory over the Goths at the Battle of Naissus, Claudius Gothicus is known to history as the man who killed St. Valentine.
The obverse of the coin depicts a bust of the Emperor, with his Latinized name and abbreviated titles. The reverse inscriptions and iconography are varied. Metal: bronze; weight: 1.5-4.3 g; diameter: 14.2-21.5 mm
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