By Juan Rodriguez – DHT
Everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is a time for lovers, red hearts, chocolates and flowers, but to us as Christian’s, Valentine’s Day means more than the commercial holiday. It is the day we commemorate the martyrdom of a famous priest who died to bring the Gospel of Jesus to the Roman world.
Many legends follow his life, but no one can deny that he existed; many of the Church’s ancient writings of the lives of the saints give attention to this Saint of Lovers. His name was remembered in books such as the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, as well as the calendars of Fronto and that of Allatius in Bede’s. (1) Archaeologists have found that St. Valentine existed through the unearthing of a Roman catacomb that housed a church in honor of the saint. (2)
Valentine lived a courageous life protecting and serving the Christian community during the reign of Claudius II in Rome. The Emperor Claudius brought much pain and suffering to all Christians, bringing persecution and death, whose victims included St. Valentine. But without fear, Valentine dedicated every ounce of his life to the sanctity and prosperity of Christian Marriage. He would gather couples in silence to teach them the importance of marriage centered in Christ, as well as blessing marriages in His Name. Later, St. Valentine was captured by the Roman authorities and placed in prison. He was charged with aiding persecuted Christians. It is mentioned in history that St. Valentine had an audience with the Emperor Claudius. The Emperor in many ways took a liking to this charismatic Christian, as they conversed many times. But to Valentine, nothing was more important than to bring Jesus to the Heart of Caesar. Hardened by this discussion, Claudius became angered and sent Valentine to his death. He sentenced him to be beaten with clubs and stones.
But the heart and soul of the great Valentine would not fall, for Jesus protected his body. Later, Valentine did face his gift of martyrdom by the sword, when he was beheaded on February 14th in the year 270 A.D. (Anno Domini – Year of our Lord)
What can we learn from this great saint?
The life of St. Valentine shows us that it is possible to love unconditionally, even when great evils are against us. As Christians we can learn two things: First – As Valentine saw the importance of celebrating and protecting Christian marriage, we must preserve and celebrate it as God commanded marriage to be HOLY. Second – Valentine’s martyrdom is a sign to us that one can be filled with an “Agape” love - that is when one gives his life for love of another. This can only be done through our Lord Jesus. St. Valentine knew this well, for he could not stop speaking of Him, even when he was threatened with death.
We as young Catholics can learn from our experience in connection with the life of St. Valentine. We can learn the importance of Divine love.
At a time when the Culture of Death is racing to destroy the very Image of God in us, we must make haste to usher in a Culture of Life centered in true love for God, for our neighbor, and for ourselves; an “Agape” love that sets hearts on fire for Jesus and for others. On February14th, remember the man who showed us how to love with the price of sacrifice. His love was mingled in with the Blood of the Lamb; our love should be the same.
St. Valentine, Pray for us!