This week, we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, although the “Saint” in the name is usually dropped. We see images of hearts, red and pink decorations, and depictions of Cupid, the Roman god of physical attraction. But what’s with that name?
According to Wikipedia:
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner — until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor — whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn’t finish him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.[
So we see the connection with marriage, although much of the activity associated today with St. Valentine’s Day would appall St. Valentine, making a mockery of marriage, and the fact that a Roman god is used to celebrate the day when Rome killed St. Valentine leaves a sour taste in my mouth that candy hearts won’t fix.
That said, in marriage, we see the relationship between a man and a woman being a lesser sampling of the love of Jesus for His bride, the church (all Christians everywhere). (Ephesians 5:22-33)
According to legend, while in prison, Valentine wrote to the Christians to encourage them, and at the end of his letters, he’d sign them, “Your Valentine,” and some believe this marks the source of sending cards and letters on that day.
Regardless of the truth of the legend, as we celebrate God’s love as shown through the life of Valentine and other martyrs, we find a greater love than that offered by the card and candy stores. God has given us His Son and has shown us the greatest love. (John 15:12-13)
So as you celebrate, whether married, single, or somewhere in between, know that St. Valentine’s Day is for all people, a day to celebrate true love, the love of God in Jesus Christ.