February 14th a memorable day for all the young people who are in love, they find it an apt occasion to express their love and concern to their lovers. To exchange cards and flowers, to be together for some time and so on. What is the real meaning of this celebration? Is it still relevant today?
Story of St. Valentine
The story of Valentine’s Day takes us back to the year 270 A.D. and the reign of Claudius II. Claudius II, emperor of Rome, had formerly been a general under Emperor Valerian. When Claudius II succeeded Valerian, he continued to exercise his instinct for war. While in conflict with the Gauls, Claudius II came to the realization that married men are inferior at warfare, due to their personal attachments. Moreover, married men had a tendency to even avoid joining the army. To remedy this situation, Claudius II outlawed marriage.
Valentine, or Valentinus as he was known, then bishop of Italy outraged at the decree of this warmongering emperor. He refused to follow it. He conducted the marriages in secret risking even his life. Thus Valentine became a haven for young couples hoping to enter the Sacrament of Marriage. He married them in private, until eventually he was captured and imprisoned.
Valentine’s devotion to God and love continued while he was in jail. Despite the overwhelming odds, Valentine took it upon himself to convert the Emperor, in hopes of reversing this unjust decree. But to no avail. Instead, the Emperor became further enraged by became friends with the daughter of his jailer. She was a blind girl who showed Valentine kindness in his captivity. Through his faith and through prayer, Valentine cured the girl of her affliction – an act of love even for the daughter of his captor.
Nonetheless, Valentine was executed on February 14, 270. Before he died, he wrote a letter of gratitude and hope to the jailer’s daughter. He signed it, “From your Valentine.” This sentiment, of course, carries on today and is echoed every year on the anniversary of this saint’s death.
Although there is no perfect history on when St. Valentine’s Day celebrations began, we know that by the Middle Ages, St. Valentine’s traditions were underway.
St. Valentine a True Lover
St. Valentine in imitation of his Lord and Master stood for the value of Love to the last breath of his life. He considered marriage as an expression love with responsibility. Celebrating St. Valentine’s Day is a tribute to St. Valentine, later titled Patron Saint of Lovers. His devotion to God and his commitment to supporting love and marriage set a wonderful example for us. The very celebration of Valentine’s Day whether through cards or flowers or acting as the saint acted in giving love, respecting the others. We are appreciating what god has given us.
St. Valentine taught us about the importance of love and the Sacrament of Marriage.
He believed in these things so deeply that he gave his life for the same. Although, we live in times where marriage and love are not forbidden to us still the Saint raises questions about the value that we give to them today. Often love becomes only a physical attraction for self-gratification, the individuality of the other person is not respected. We tend to treat the other as an object of pleasure.
St. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the preciousness what we have been given to us, the gift of physical attraction, the gift of love, gift of marriage.
Here one commits oneself to the other, a move from the self-centredness to the other centeredness.
The other becomes a value and the reason for my existence, once can go to the extent to say I live for the Other and because of the Other.
When we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day we are appreciating what God has given us.