Happy Valentine’s Day!
What does this day mean to you? To most it is about declaring your love, chocolate hearts, and dinner out. For children, they exchange brief cards with cute comments like, “Be mine, Valentine!”
There is actually a very heroic story behind Valentine’s day and it doesn’t involve Cupid, Arrow or Chocolate. Valentine’s Day is named in honor of Saint Valentinus a 3rd century minister of the early church. (He died about AD 270 and is to be differentiated from the heretic Valentinus (c. AD 140) who was a leading Gnostic advocate.) St. Valentine was a noble advocate of marriage in a time in which is was forbidden.
This morning I read to my daughters an account of St. Valentinus, a man who resisted the Roman Emporer Claudius II who forbade marriage. Apparently, Claudius outlawed marriage to be able to conscript more young men into his army to fight off the barbarians who were threatening Rome. Against the law of the land, Valentinus (himself a minister) performed wedding ceremonies for young couples in secret–how romantic!
St. Valentine was placed in jail, but while there led a guard to faith in Jesus. According to the story, Valentine prayed for the guard’s blind daughter who received the miracle of having her sight restored.
Valentinus was martyred on the 14th of February around AD 270 (on a Roman Holiday named Lupercalia). He knew that marriage was ordained by God and when forced with a conflict between the laws of man and the laws of God sided with God. He was willing to resist and unjust law–even if it costs him his life.
This valentine’s day, I’m praying that my daughters will someday enjoy marriage to godly men, praying for my son that he’ll be a godly husband. And I’m taking my wife out to celebrate our marriage–a gift to us from God
Thank you Valentinus for taking a stand for God’s first institution among men–marriage.