Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Saint Valentine

We live in a world where the only thing most people think about when it comes to February 14th is candy and flowers, romantic dinners, and printed card stock with silly little sayings. And I'm not saying that all of these things don't have their places. I'm also not saying that we don't do these things ourselves. But, there is a deeper meaning to Saint Valentine's Day then most people seem to know about.

Saint Valentine was a Roman priest back when Claudius (who was the emperor back then) was persecuting the church. Claudius had made a ruling that it was illegal for young people to marry because he believed (probably falsely) that unmarried soldiers fought harder as they had nothing really to loose. Back then polygamy was still pretty popular, but a lot of folks were drawn to Christianity in spite of (and maybe partly because of) this. Or course the church believes in the sanctity of marriage and Valentine felt very strongly about the whole thing. So strongly in fact that he chose to marry young people in secret despite Claudius's ruling.

When Valentine was eventually caught he was charged, imprisoned, and tortured for basically doing his job even though Emperor Claudius the second had said that it was illegal to do so. A lot of legends surround what Valentine did while he was in prison back then.

In one of those legends he prayed over a blind child and she was healed, which caused the girls father to convert to Christianity. When, in 269 A.D., he was sentenced to a three part death to include beating, stoning, and decapitation he wrote his final letter to the child who's vision he'd prayed to have returned. He signed it: "from your Valentine".

There are many who do know the true story of Saint Valentine's Day and what he did for his beliefs about love and and marriage. These people make pilgrimages to one of the three churches to have a bit of the saint's remains, or pray to him as the patron saint of marriage, or tell his story to their children.

In our home we speak about the truth of Saint Valentine and what he gave up and endured because of his beliefs. We also make and send out valentines cards, eat conversation hearts, and attempt to have romantic dinners (if having a dinner with the children can ever be termed romantic). Love is talked about and celebrated in our home all the time, but it is given special attention the entire month of February and especially on Saint Valentine's Day.

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