googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Who was St. Valentine?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who was St. Valentine?

On February 14, couples all over exchange gifts, send cards, and celebrate their love for each other. Few of them stop to consider why they practice the tradition. If asked why, many people might answer that Valentine's Day was invented by Hallmark to sell more cards. Like many other holidays celebrated in the US, Valentine's Day is also a Christian tradition.

Very little is now known about the patron saint of this day. Its unanimously agreed that he was a Christian martyr but the exact circumstances of his sufferings are shrouded in mystery. There are at least two competing traditions that are enduring:

One legend holds that he was a priest during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius II. At that time, Claudius, believing that single men made better soldiers than married men, had outlawed marriage for all young men. In defiance of the law, Valentine continued to perform marriages for young couples in secret. He was eventually found out and executed for his crimes.

Another tradition is that he was arrested for giving aid to Christians who were being persecuted under Claudius. In jail, he was tortured and told to recant his faith which he refused to do. Finally, he was sentenced to death. During his time in prison, he met and fell in love with the jailer's daughter. Before his execution, he sent her a farewell letter which he signed, “From your Valentine.”

On February 14, c. 269, St. Valentine was beheaded. In 496, Pope Gelasius marked the date as a celebration of his martyrdom.

Marriage is an institution founded by God (Genesis 2:19,21-24). It is the earthly symbol of the Christ's relationship with His church (Revelation 19:7-9). Love is the first fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). So, as we celebrate this day, let us remember the Author of love.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

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