Love is everything……
Valentine, the priest after whom Valentine’s Day is named, was martyred for his belief and commitment to the institution of marriage.
The emperor of Rome during Valentine’s life, Claudius II, passed a law banning marriages for the young. His reason was simple: men would not volunteer to join the Roman army if they were married, and had children. Valentine kept on officiating at marriage services – but in secret. He would whisper the words of the ceremony, while listening for soldiers on the steps outside his church.
One night, he did indeed hear footsteps. The couple whom he was marrying escaped, but he was caught, arrested, and thrown into prison. He was sentenced to death.
Valentine remained cheerful whilst in prison and many people came to visit him. He even continued to perform marriage ceremonies whilst in prison. He also converted the jailer to Christianity. The jailer’s daughter would often visit Valentine in his cell and they became friends.
On the day Valentine was to be executed, he left this girl a note, thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, “With love from your Valentine”. That note, written on the day Valentine died – February 14th, 270 AD – started the custom of exchanging love notes on St. Valentine’s Day. He was martyred on the eve of the important Roman festival of Lupercalia. It is possible that Valentine’s execution formed part of a series of entertainment activities for the Romans, along with the persecution and punishment of Christians for evangelising Roman citizens, thus drawing them to Jesus Christ and away from the Roman gods of Janus, Saturnis and Solarus.
Valentine was a man of great courage. The theologian Karl Barth wrote: “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” So whether you are young, old, married or single, may you know that you are loved and appreciated and cared for, wherever you are in this big old world.
“For God so loVed the world,
…….That He gAve
…….Believeth In Him
……….Should Not perish,
…….But have Everlasting life.”