It’s February and Valentine’s
Day is soon upon us! The greetings card and confectionary
industries go into overdrive. Suppliers of cut flowers,
especially roses, will be working overtime to keep up with
The origin of Valentine’s Day
and even who Saint Valentine actually was is shrouded in myth
and the fog history. Some stories tell of a priest who lived at
a time when Roman Emperor Claudius had ordered young men to
remain single so that they could fight in the army.
The priest, Valentine,
carried out secret marriage ceremonies for young couples. When
the Emperor found out he threw Valentine into prison. Whilst
there, he fell in love with the jailer’s blind and deaf
daughter, whom he healed. On the night before his execution, he
wrote the first Valentine’s card to the jailer’s daughter,
professing his love and signing it “from your Valentine”.
There’s little, if any, historical evidence to support this
story, though there have been various priests called Valentine,
who may be the real inspiration behind Valentine’s Day.
One such priest was arrested
by Emperor Claudius II for giving aid to Christians. At that
time Christians were being persecuted and this was illegal.
Claudius is said to have taken a liking to Valentine, trying to
convert him to Roman paganism. Valentine, full of faith,
countered by trying to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity
and for this he was martyred.
Whilst the first story is
perhaps more fitting for our Valentine celebrations, the second,
to my mind, speaks of a deeper love. A Christian who loved the
Lord so deeply, that even though it may cost his life, he had to
speak out for what he knew to be true. Rather than giving in to
fear and just agreeing with the all-powerful Emperor, in order
to save himself. He was compelled to tell the Emperor of the God
who loves us.
Saint Paul wrote: Love is
patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it
is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not
self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of
wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the
truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and
always perseveres. (1
Valentine lived these words,
knowing the love that “rejoices in the truth” and “always
perseveres”. Ultimately, he knew the love of a God who would
come into this world as Jesus Christ, to personally show what
love really is. May we all know more of this love.
Marsh Benefice Confirmation Service
April at 10.30 in St. Nicholas Church, New Romney