St. Valentine was a widely recognized 3rd century Roman saint, commemorated on Feb. 14. Since the late middle ages, he has been associated with traditions of romantic love. He is also regarded as a patron saint of epilepsy, beekeepers, plagues, fainting and traveling.
Valentine was a clergyman who ministered to persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire. Since 496 AD, Feb. 14, the date of his death and burial in 270 AD, has been celebrated as the Feast of St. Valentine or Valentine’s Day.
A number of stories surround Valentine. Most portray him as a clergyman who performed secret weddings for Christian couples. For this and for his refusal to give up his faith, he was arrested. Imprisoned, he once healed his captor’s blind daughter — which led to the conversion of her entire family. From his prison cell, he is said to have sent the girl a note signed “Your Valentine.” Otherwise, much of his life remains shrouded in mystery.
So, here we are on Feb. 14, 2021, over 1700 years later, celebrating attraction and romance — powerful factors in human relationships! For this we can be grateful! That being said, from a faith perspective, romantic love doesn’t take us deep enough! God’s love for humanity, for each and every one of us, takes us deeper to the center of all life.
And what does that love look like? Christians would respond by pointing to Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. In him, we encounter true love — not just in words, but in deeds, which encompass Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
So this Valentine’s Day, share the joy! Tell someone you love them! But remember where that love comes from. It comes from an even deeper source — a message which each of us so needs to hear and to trust. That message is this: “God loves you!” And that message comes to us not in a card, but in a person — Jesus Christ. That’s a love we can celebrate, not just on Feb. 14, but every single day!
Happy Valentine’s Day!