Hello, lovely YOU!
I don’t know about where you live, but a week or so ago, the stores in my area started decorating for Valentine’s Day. Everywhere I look I see pink and red hearts, cupids and jewelry commercials on TV!
While many of us celebrate the holiday in some way, not many people know much about St. Valentine or why a holiday devoted to love is named after him. Admittedly, there is a bit of mystery surrounding the life of St. Valentine.
Many believe he started his adult life as an Italian doctor but later became a priest during the 3rd century. Believers say that God worked through the man to teach people how to experience true love.
St. Valentine is said to have secretly performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry by Emperor Claudius II. This defiance of the law, driven by the belief in love’s importance, ultimately led to his martyrdom on February 14th. The man was put to death for marrying people, I would think he would be entitled to his own holiday!
Though the specifics remain unclear, St. Valentine’s association with love grew over time. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I established February 14th as his feast day, coinciding with the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which celebrated love and fertility. Over the centuries, these elements merged, and St. Valentine’s Day evolved into a celebration of love in all its forms, carrying forward the legacy of a man who, according to legend, risked everything for its sake.
Now that we know a bit more about the man, let’s take a look at some love lessons we can take from him:
Love is Courageous
Valentine risked his life to marry lovers at a time when new marriages were outlawed in ancient Rome. At the time, Emperor Claudius II wanted to recruit lots of men to be his soldiers in his army and thought marriage would stop many young men from “signing up.” He also thought if men had wives back home, they would be distracted from the important work of conquering new lands. So he made weddings illegal. But St. Valentine wasn’t having it. He did what he thought God would want- bring two people together in holy matrimony and he was sent to prison and eventually killed for it.
Love is scary. Being vulnerable and giving your heart to another can be absolutely terrifying. It takes courage to love others and to allow them to love you back. May we all find the courage to love a little deeper this year.
Love is Kind
While he was in jail, Valentine agreed to tutor the blind child of his jailor. The young girl, Julia, took to Valentine right away and the two became fast friends. Now, St. Valentine could have chosen to be a bitter and angry man, and take it out on his jailor’s daughter. But instead he showed great kindness.
The moral to the story: You can bring more light and love into the world by simply showing kindness each and every day. This includes kindness to yourself!
Love is Thoughtful
As I mentioned, Emperor Claudius would eventually sentence Vantine to die. Instead of sinking into a state of self-pity and anger about his impending execution, Valentine instead thought about his new young friend, Julia, and what he could do to comfort her.
Valentine wrote Julia a long letter, thanking her for being his friend and encouraging her relationship with God. He signed the note, “From your Valentine.” It is believed that this very act was what inspired people to write loving messages to people on his feast day, February 14th, which is the same day he was martyred.
Thinking of others even when we are struggling can often be the very thing that gets us out of our doldrums and misery.
Love is Forever
It was dangerous living in an age where the authorities persecuted Christians. But Valentine had the faith of a mountain and believed God had called him to love and serve others.
Though the man was executed on February 14th, 270, his loving kindness and service to others continues to inspire people to this day to show more love. Now what we really need to do is not just buy cards and chocolates one day a year for those we love, but find ways to be like St. Valentine and show love and kindness to others every day of the year.
Photo Attribution: https://www.shamblenstudios.com/