Commemoration of St. Valentine, Martyr
February 14, 2010
The Lord be with you,
Today is, of course, Valentine’s Day. The greeting card companies and florists love it. The origins of the day reach back to the third century.
Valentine was a physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius. Claudius wanted to restore the glory of Rome. He felt restoring the army was vital in this effort. However he didn’t want to draft anyone, so he was going to have an all volunteer army. In this effort, he discovered that unmarried men were more likely to join than married men. So, believer it or not, he outlawed marriages. That is to say, if you were already married, that was okay. However if you were not married, you couldn’t get married. Many young couples were understandably upset.
As said, Valentine was a Christian priest. He married people, even though it was against the law. (This is the romantic connections with Valentine we celebrate today.) When Claudius found out, Valentine was arrested and martyred in 270. Rather quickly he was remembered by the Early Church with a day commemorating the day of his martyrdom (which was February 14).
Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian Faith, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer, written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper. He signed it, “Your Valentine.” The paper just happened to be shaped like a heart. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.
Valentine’s love flowed from his faith in Christ. His actions in marrying people flowed from his faith in Christ. His willingness to die, was a willingness born from his faith in Christ. Perhaps the best way we can honor the memory of Valentine is for the love of Christ to flow through us as well.
Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, You kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy martyr Valentine. Grant to us, Your humble servants, a like faith and the power of love, that we who rejoice in Christ’s triumph may embody His love in our lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Blessings in Christ,