Most of the time people think of Valentine’s Day as a day where we tell people we love them, give and receive cards, and eat a lot of chocolate. It’s a day where nearly every man in line at Trader Joe’s is buying a bouquet of flowers.
Today I heard that Valentine’s Day is based on the life of a saint, so I decided to look up the story…and was pleasantly surprised to discover the story of the man behind Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine.
In the early third century, Roman Emperor Claudius II was in the midst of fighting many wars, but he was having a difficult time finding men to join the army. In order to grow his military leagues, Claudius decided to cancel all marriages. He thought that this would make men ignore women and want to be soldiers (whoever thought that would work!)
During this time, Saint Valentine was a priest and believed that people should have the right to get married, so he married couples in secret places.
Eventually, the Emperor heard about Saint Valentine and had him arrested. In the court, the Emperor was impressed with Valentine’s speaking skills, but told him to stop being a Christian and become a loyal Roman. Valentine wouldn’t deny his beliefs, and even tried to tell the Emperor Claudius about the love found in Jesus Christ. Because of this, the Emperor sent Valentine to prison to be executed. It is said that when in prison, Saint Valentine sent letters to his friends and asked if they would pray for him by writing, “Remember Your Valentine.”
While he was in jail, it is said that Valentine prayed for the blind daughter of his jailer and she was healed. A few days later, Valentine was killed by Roman officials, a martyr (Greek for “witness”) to the Christian faith.
The date that Valentine was killed was thought to be the 14th of February in the year 269 or 270 AD, and that is why we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.
It is also believed that there was a second Saint Valentine, a bishop from Terni in A.D. 197, who wrote letters to his community to express his love for the people he was pastoring. Like the first Saint Valentine, this man was also was martyred for his faith.
I’m not sure how much of this is true, and how much is folklore that has been built over the years, but regardless it is inspirational to me to see how people are willing to stand up for Christ and the Church, at all costs. It’s amazing to see how people were so transformed by Christ’s love that they were willing to lose their lives for Him.
Whether through cards, chocolates, or simply kind words, be sure to take time today to tell people you love how much you care about them!
“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:13