Not much is known about St. Valentine, other than he was a real person, a priest who lived in Rome during the 3rd Century. During that time, Claudius II was Emperor. He forbade the practice of Christianity, and executed anyone who disobeyed him.
Fortunately for us, St. Valentine ignored the rule, and went about his business converting pagans and secretly administering the Sacrament of Marriage to young lovers. Which is why we send mushy cards, flowers, and chocolate dipped strawberries to the people we love on the anniversary of his death.
But there’s more to the story than that.
Valentine lived in a time when it was very dangerous to be a Christian. He lived his beliefs, and stood firm in his faith, even when he was arrested and brought before the magistrate. In fact, he converted the magistrate and his entire family when he performed a miracle, restoring sight to the magistrate’s blind daughter.
Needless to say, Claudius was not pleased, and had St. Valentine dragged before him. At which point Valentine attempted to convert Claudius. A fatal mistake on Valentine’s part; as an enraged Claudius, not given to understatement, had Valentine beaten with clubs, stoned, and then beheaded.
Legend tells us that before his execution, St. Valentine managed to sneak a farewell note to the Magistrate’s daughter, signing it “from your Valentine.” Thus, today we send “Valentine’s Day cards” to just about everybody from classmates, to grandparents, to the local bus driver.
St. Valentine was buried on February 14, and is honored today as the true patron of love. And not because Hallmark was looking for another profitable day to fill the gap between Christmas and Easter. Valentine loved God, and he loved his flock enough to make the ultimate sacrifice. He gave up his life rather than denounce his faith, and gave us a role model for making tough decisions.
Today, and every day, let’s ask God, through the example and intercession of St. Valentine, to help us love unselfishly, be kind to everyone which whom we come in contact, and stand firm when we must make difficult choices.