Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve loved the yummy chocolates, pretty flowers, chalky tasting hearts, and fancy dinners associated with February 14th. Those things pretty much sum up Valentine’s Day, right? Well, no, not really.
Here’s how it all started: In the 3rd century, Roman Emperor Claudius released an edict which prohibited the marrying of young people. It was his belief that unmarried soldiers made the best soldiers because they weren’t concerned with a wife and family. Because of this, young men and women often chose cohabitation outside of marriage. Many others, however, opted for more free, open relationships with allowed for multiple sexual partners.
However, as more and more young people in this time period gave their lives to Christ, they desired the commitment and unity found within the confines of marriage. Not knowing where to turn, they turned to Valentine the priest, who began to secretly perform Christian marriages.
In time, Claudius learned of Valentine’s actions, had him arrested, thrown into prison, and tortured for his actions. Eventually, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution involving beating, stoning, and finally decapitation. Legend has it that he sent a note to a young lady before his execution, signing it with the words From Your Valentine.
So, today, we celebrate the memory of Saint Valentine, as we now call him. He is the patron Saint of true lovers. However, much more than a title, he gave his life because of his love for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the love that is found and exemplified within the institution of Christian marriage.