Did you know that the true origin of Valentine’s Day is actually about a heroic follower of Christ who made the ultimate sacrifice to lay down his life out of love and devotion to Jesus, so that other people might be set free to know the love of God & the beauty of a Christian marriage?
St. Valentine was a priest in late 3rd century Rome who was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ, his commitment to spread the gospel and to perform Christian marriage ceremonies.
Name history: Ancient Roman Valentinus or Valens means “strong, vigorous, healthy” in Latin.
(History became legend and legend became myth…. JRR Tolkien Lord of the Rings)
Valentine was born in 226 and became a priest in the small village of Terni in Umbria, Italy
He lived during the reign of Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel.
There was an invasion of Goths towards Rome and Claudius needed a lot of men to go to war and fight. Claudius believed unmarried men would fight better than married since they would not be concerned about what would happen to their wives and families if they were killed in battle, so he simply outlawed marriage in Rome.
One of the great witnesses of the early church is that they stood up for the value of a godly marriage, showing what God-given enduring Love could look like.
Valentine not only converted people, but secretly married them, honoring God’s perfect plan for marriage and family above the king’s orders – which he knew was the right thing to do. The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about.
Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against the command of Emperor Claudius. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.
At one of his trials, Valentine challenged the Judge, Asterius, on the validity of Jesus. Some accounts say he prayed “Lord Jesus, You are light. Fill this prison with Your light in such a way that those who are here will know You are God.” As a result, Asterius gave Valentine the task of proving the validity of Jesus by restoring the sight of his daughter Julia, who had been blind from birth, and whom Valentine had read to while in prison, building a friendship with her. If he succeeded, the judge would do what was asked of him. Valentine restored the site of the girl, shocking Asterius. With this miracle performed before his eyes, Asterius not only proclaimed the validity of Jesus but also broke the idols in his house and fasted for the next three days. After those three days, he was baptized with his daughter, the whole family, and over 44 members of his household. After this, Astorius set free captive Christians from imprisonment.
Emperor Claudius also came to like Valentine. He offered to pardon Valentine and set him free if Valentine would renounce his Christian faith and agree to worship the Roman gods. Not only did Valentine refuse to leave his faith, he also encouraged Emperor Claudius to place his trust in Christ. Valentine’s faithful choices cost him his life. Emperor Claudius was so enraged at Valentine’s response that he sentenced Valentine to die.
Before he was killed, Valentine wrote a last note to encourage Julia to stay close to Jesus and to thank her for being his friend. He signed the note: “From your Valentine.” That note inspired people to begin writing their own loving messages to people on Valentine’s Feast Day, February 14th, which is celebrated on the same day on which Valentine was martyred.
Valentine was beaten, stoned, and beheaded on February 14, 269 or 270. People who remembered his loving service to many young couples began celebrating his life, and he came to be regarded as a saint through whom God had worked to help people in miraculous ways. By 496, Pope Gelasius designated February 14th as Valentine’s official feast day.
The church’s commitment to Valentine to honor this example of Christian marriage and sacrifice and martyrdom and the healing of other people and the spread of the gospel, was from the beginning a commitment to what Christian marriage could be like in our world and the message that it brings to a broken world.
Valentine stands as a hero of the faith reminding us that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.
There is a LOVE that surpasses all earthly love. The LOVE that all earthly love is rooted in. The LOVE we were created for and the ONLY LOVE that will ever satisfy our hearts. This is the LOVE of God. That is the LOVE Saint Valentine lived and died for and this is why we celebrate His legacy.
For Christians marriage is a holy parable of the love of Christ towards His church. It’s a visible sermon about what holiness and purity could look like in our lives. We should celebrate what true sacrificial love looks like in a broken world. And ultimately it should be a day that we celebrate the commitment of Christ, who gave His life for His church. It should be a day of evangelism. It should be a day where we celebrate the power of true love to change our world. It is a Christian holiday.