Another Valentine’s Day is upon us, a day that some look forward to eagerly, while others dread. Once again consumers will send roses, chocolates, and cards to the ones they love. It is a huge consumer day in our calendar, especially when a dozen roses can easily sell for 75-100 dollars, boosting the retail sales of florists and growers. Roses by their nature are sweet and beautiful, whether red, white, pink, or yellow, and there are even special meanings for each color rose. In any given store, there are so many cards to choose from it could easily take hours to find that special card for that special person. And chocolates come in all shapes, sizes, and prices sure to please even the most discriminating. Yes, Valentine’s Day is a special holiday for love and lovers.
It will then be interesting for those who do not know, to learn the truth behind Valentine’s Day. The beginning of this centuries old feast day is drenched in blood, not candy and flowers. It is about persecution and prejudice instead of love as we view it today. It is, however, about love, because as the ancient text says ‘No greater love hath man than to lay down his life for another’.
St. Valentine, for whom the feast day is named, was a priest of Rome, who was one of many who assisted those who were being persecuted by Caludius II, because being Christian was considered a crime. Another of Valentine’s crimes was performing marriages. Valentine drew the attention of Claudius, and he was imprisoned. Because Valentine tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, and refused to renounce his own beliefs, he was sentenced to be beaten with stones, and to be beheaded. On the eve of his execution, Valentine’s attention was drawn to the blind daughter of his jailer. His last act, according to the legend, was to cure her blindness, after which he wrote a note to her. This note, the basis for our modern cards, he signed ‘From your Valentine’. Valentine was beheaded on February 14th, around the year 270AD.
Subsequently, Valentine was elevated to the sainthood by the Catholic Church. His bones and skull are regularly displayed and venerated in churches in Italy, specifically on Feb 14th. He is known as the patron saint of love, lovers, happiness, and marriage, among others.
So when we are celebrating love on February 14th, remember St Valentine, for his holiday.