We can’t let February end without talking about love. February is identified with Saint Valentine. Most people I asked did not know the story behind Valentine’s day, which is tragic to me. If you are going to celebrate a holiday, you should at least know the real story why its important. Saint Valentine was a Priest at a time of emperor Claudius II, who like all Roman emperors until Constantine, persecuted Christians for their refusal to recognize the Roman gods and, in particular, that the emperor was a living god. Emperor Claudius also prohibited the Christian marriage of young people.
Saint Valentine preached that marriage was sacred, this in a time of polygamy and “open” Roman marriages. Saint Valentine openly preached the sanctity of marriage and secretly married Christians in defiance of emperor Claudius II.
Saint Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for marrying Christians. 14 February, 269 AD, Saint Valentine was brutally killed in a three-part execution consisting of a savage beating at the hands of Roman centurions (like in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of Christ), stoning, and finally decapitation.
So, what does this have to do with how we associate him with love, besides the obvious marriage connection? One legend surrounds Saint Valentine’s time in prison, which talks about one of the Roman judges that sentenced him. He was a judge named Asterius, and his daughter was blind. Saint Valentine learned of this and offered to pray with Asterius to heal her. Per the story, his daughter was healed and that Asterius converted to Christianity as a result. Before he was executed, Saint Valentine wrote a note to Asterius daughter encouraging her to follow Christ and signed it, “from your Valentine.” The Catholic church hailed Valentine as the patron saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people.
So, like the commentator, and one of my all-time favorite radio personalities, Paul Harvey used to say, “…now you know the rest of the story.”
But that’s not the end of this post – I want to close with my favorite Bible verse about love, and one that is frequently heard at Christian weddings. Saint Paul writes in the book of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – English Standard Version. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
And to all reading this – remember you special and you are loved.