Saturday, February 13, 2010

St. Valentine, Martyr

The Transfiguration or Our Lord
Commemoration of Saint Valentine, Martyr
February 14, 2010

The Lord be with you

The celebration of the Transfiguration of Our Lord always falls on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord. The commemoration of Saint Valentine, Martyr falls on February 14. This year these two days coincide. As the Transfiguration is a major Church Festival, and the commemoration of St Valentine is a minor Church festival, most churches that recognize such things will give scant attention to Valentine. However, if he is totally ignored, the day is in danger of simply becoming a Hallmark Card day, with little thought to the real Valentine.

The name Valentine means “worthy,” and so it is not surprising that there has been more than one individual with the name. Indeed a number of them have figured prominently in Church history. However the man this day is associated with lived in the Third Century. More than enough archeological evidence has been found to confirm the main points of his story, though some detail might be embellished.

Valentine was a physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius II. It was illegal to be a Christian or help them. He was caught while marrying a Christian couple. He was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentine made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon he was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. The year was 270 AD.

Tradition suggests that, on the day of his execution, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper. He signed it “From your Valentine.” This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that new are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations. Another traditions also claims that Valentine restored the sight of that same child.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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