Valentine’s Day is next Wednesday. How does that thought sit with you? Do you feel like you have to buy the obligatory card, candy or flowers? Or do you want to ignore it, casting it aside as a “Hallmark holiday.” Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day can be over commercialized, yet has a deeper meaning worthy of celebrating. And we need look no further than the namesake himself – St. Valentine.
Valentine was a Roman priest in the 3rd century AD when the Emperor Claudius II had an edict prohibiting marriage based on the belief that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because they didn’t have the burden of worrying about their families. Polygamy was the norm during this time. Nevertheless, many young people were becoming attracted to the Christian faith, and the idea of a sacred, monogamous marriage.
Courageously, Valentine continued to perform secret marriage ceremonies until he was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured. Legend has it that one of the men who was to judge him, Asterius, had a daughter who was blind. Valentine prayed with and healed the young girl, an act so powerful that Asterius converted to Christianity.
When Valentine was later sentenced to be brutally executed, the story goes that the last words he penned in were in a note for Asterius’ daughter. He concluded the note with words that have for centuries inspired the romantic hearts of young lovers: from your Valentine.
The story illuminates the true meaning of Valentine’s Day – to celebrate love, to honor the devotion of a committed partnership, and genuinely express gratitude for this gift. If you are in a relationship, pause for a moment to reflect on what your partner means to you. Then do something on Valentine’s Day that celebrates this deeper meaning. If you’re single, take time to reflect on where you experience love in your life, and express your gratitude to those who contribute to it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!