February 14, 2013
It’s too bad we’ve trivialized “Valentine” to baby-faced-winged-cherubs of myth – when a factual human of history is at the heart of today’s historical core.
The real historic person, the Saint – of St. Valentine’s day – lived as a peacemaker, embodying love for others demonstrated in allegiance with his Christian piety & care. The Saint lived to embody relational, reciprocal love between humans that stood in opposition to warfare, violence, enemies, empires or allegiance to nationalistic overlords.
“Not much is known about St. Valentine. He lived in the third century, was a priest in Rome, and was martyred in the final years of the Emperor Claudius II’s reign. Stories about Valentine have him ministering in various ways to persecuted Christians. But the story that best expresses what the saint stands for has it that he secretly married dozens of young Christian couples during a time when Claudius had forbidden male youths from marrying because he wanted them as unencumbered soldiers for his legions. Valentine was discovered officiating at one such wedding and was hauled in chains before Claudius. Once there, he tried to convert the emperor. Enraged at the priest’s presumption, Claudius had him beaten nearly to death and then beheaded.”
Today – let’s celebrate a Peacemaker who valued love for others. St. Valentine was willing to die for his commitment to love as testimony to how he understood God’s love for the world.
“St. Valentine’s feast day has fallen on hard times. It’s become an annual occasion marked by mawkish verse, images of fat cupids shooting arrows into hearts, and binge spending (in 2011, U.S. consumers blew nearly $16 billion on Valentine cards, candy, flowers, and jewels). Even the Roman Catholic Church contributed to the day’s decline by taking if off the General Roman Calendar in 1969. But despite all the marketing hoopla that’s almost swallowed up the day, peacemakers ought to remember it, because at its best it’s a commemoration of the nonviolent power of love.” (Same source as above.)
Saint Valentine valued human-reciprocal love more than earthly allegiance to warfare and violence, the militarism of his day.