Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Legacy of Saint Valentine

Valentine's Day has been sadly hyped in our post-modern culture, and we have, as the Israelites before us, forgotten the heritage that once made the holiday––or holy-day––worth celebrating.

Saint Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius Gothicus, emperor of Rome.  He was known for aiding the persecuted Christians of that time, and especially for marrying Christian men and women according to the standards of their faith, rather than the empty pagan practices common in Roman weddings  Helping Christians at the time was considered criminal, and the saint was arrested and imprisoned on being caught in the act of initiating a Christian wedding.  Claudius was amused by this prisoner and his crime, until St. Valentine refused to renounce Christ and then attempted to convert him, on which outrage the emperor condemned the priest to death.  After being beaten with sticks and then stoned, he was sent off to the Flaminian Gate to be beheaded.  Before the final stroke, St. Valentine healed the sight and hearing of the jailer's daughter. He was then decapitated outside of the gate.

The current legends of St. Valentine were created in the fourteenth century by Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries, and traditions like signing heart-shaped letters 'from your Valentine' were started in the late Middle Ages.  It was then that February 14 first became a celebration of romantic love.  

Let us throw aside the antics of Rome, as Chesterton termed it, and meditate on the God who is Love, and created the Love that dwelled inside of St. Valentine and was so strong and selfless that it sought to bless and heal the very ones who persecuted him.  Let us pray that such strength of heart may also be cultivated in our own souls.  

A happy St. Valentine's Day to you!


Stephen Bittner said...
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Stephen Bittner said...

Satan is much more cunning than most give him credit for. From Christmas with Santa to Valentines with Cupid to Thanksgiving becoming nothing more than a day off to watch the Super bowl, his ability to water down and eradicate are alarming. Christian need to become more serious in discerning where their convictions lie and why.

Amy Elisabeth said...

Very interesting, Camille! I'd always wondered what the story behind Valentine's Day was. I think it is sweet that St. Valetine helped Christians marry in a holy way! So that's where all the romance comes from...great post!