Saint Valentine

By Stephenie Cox –

The sweet exuberance of February and Valentine’s Day is here. It is the time of the year when lovers’ hands are clasped together, and lips are puckered for loving kisses. It’s that time when loving moments last for eternity, and the beautiful hours spent together just don’t seem to disappear. This is the month when red is the color of the season, and hearts are worn on the sleeves for all to see. Flowers bloom in all their hues and fragrances. Clouds float lazily, and cloud nine feels so much closer. Everything gets so beautiful when you’re in love this month, doesn’t it?

Valentine’s Day

It is one of the most glorious days of the year, especially if you are in love. It is a beautiful day dedicated to lovers all around the world: St. Valentine’s Day. It is the special day when you eat more chocolates than food, the day when you smell more flowers than perfumes and the day when love seems to have taken an entirely different meaning to something that is truer, deeper and so much sweeter! It’s great to enjoy the loving spirit this month, but as with every great day, it comes with a story that is just as fascinating.

The History of Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day is impossible to be obtained from any archive, and the veil of centuries gone by has made the origin behind this day more difficult to trace.   Legends are our source for the history of Valentine’s Day. There are several stories about the origin of this day, and all of them are associated with a saint by the name St. Valentine. One legend says that he was a priest near Rome during the reign of Claudius II.

Rome was a huge empire that was in constant battle from all sides. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. More capable men were required to join as soldiers and officers. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families and would not make good soldiers. So, to assure the high quality of soldiers, he banned marriage.

This came as a blow to the soldiers, who could not imagine leaving their lovers behind without even a promise of love and togetherness, to have a reason to fight the battle and reunite with their lovers in matrimony. Valentine, a bishop, seeing the trauma of young lovers, met them in a secret place and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this “friend of lovers” and had him arrested. The emperor, impressed with the young priest’s dignity and conviction, attempted to convert him to the Roman gods to save him from certain execution.

Valentine refused to recognize Roman gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully.  On February 24, A.D. 270, Valentine was executed, but we’ve been celebrating this day ever since.

What Really Happened to Valentine?

There are varying ideas about what exactly happened to Valentine after his arrest. A few historians say that he was beheaded, whereas others say that he became sick and died in prison.

In 1835, Pope Gregory XVI gave the remains of St. Valentine to Father John Spratt. The gift was in a black and gold casket and can still be viewed every Valentine’s Day at the Whitefrair Street Church in Dublin, Ireland.

There was another Valentine, a bishop of Interamna during the same time, and some critics say that it was the Valentine of Interamna who is the actual Valentine.  On the other hand, we also have a few historians who are convinced that both Valentines were the same person.

From Your Valentine

While Valentine was in prison awaiting his fate, he came in contact with his jailor, Asterius. The jailor had a blind daughter. Asterius requested Valentine to heal his daughter. Through

his faith, he miraculously restored the sight of Asterius’ daughter. It is believed that he fell in love with this girl, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a heartfelt letter, which he signed “From your Valentine.” Years and centuries after this letter was written, the expression has touched our hearts, and we still use the same words of love that were once used to express an emotion that has no words to explain.

Why February 14th?

In A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th in the name of St. Valentine. It remained a church holiday until 1969, when Pope Paul VI took it out from the calendar.

On February 13th and 14th, the ancient Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia in honor of Juno, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. Juno was also the goddess of women and marriage, so honoring her was thought to be a fertility rite.

At the feast held the next day, the women wrote love letters and put them in a large urn. The men chose a letter from the urn and for the next year, pursued the woman who wrote the chosen letter. This custom lasted until the 1700s when people decided their beloveds should be chosen by sight, not luck.

But people continued to write love notes and exchange gifts on February 14th; hence, this day was dedicated to the priest who died trying to bring lovers together and to all lovers over the world. Thus, Valentine became a patron saint and a spiritual overseer of this loving annual festival of love and togetherness.