When I used to think of Valentine’s Day, I pictured romantic dates and lovestruck couples. But now, I realize that was just a shallow perception of a holiday with deep subsurface significance. After delving into the holiday’s history, I found the real story. I now understand that it’s a deep, tragic story that honors a brave saint named Valentinus, who defied authorities and sacrificed his life to do the right thing.

During the third century of the Roman empire, a king named Claudius II seized power. While building his empire, he found single soldiers favorable to married ones, so he banned all young men from marriage.

However, St. Valentinus, a daring soul from the start, found this to be cruel and unfair and despite the decree, administered young couples’ weddings.

Back in his time, Rome was a barbaric empire that disguised its injustices with beautiful architecture and the facade of a stable government. Many of those in positions of power enjoyed mocking and accusing the weaker, poorer people and sent many to jail.

Again, St. Valentinus found this behavior to be immoral and helped those held in Roman prisons. When the Roman government learned of St. Valentinus’s intentional violations, they immediately imprisoned him.

Although sentenced to death, St. Valentinus still tried to make the most of the rest of his short life. When his jailer came to him for help because his daughter had fallen ill, St. Valentinus healed the girl without complaint. He and the daughter eventually became lovers, regularly exchanging love letters. He normally signed them with “Your Valentine,” which started the romantic tradition of expressing love to one another on Feb. 14 and calling them valentines.

Over the years, after watching commercial after commercial and ad after ad, I realized that the commercialization of Valentine’s Day has made the holiday lose its significance.

Valentine’s Day is now celebrated in over 23 countries as an international time of love, but after reading St. Valentinus’ story, I discovered that Valentine’s Day is more than just moonlit walks and poetry — it’s about standing up for what you believe in.

People who aren’t in relationships joke that they will be sitting home alone, eating chocolate and mourning their lack of a romantic relationship, but I found that instead of sitting around, waiting for our lives to begin, we should strive to make the world a better place, just like St. Valentinus.