Thursday, February 13, 2014

Legend Of Saint Valentine

Tomorrow is the day for lovers. Valentine's Day. A day to express love for your special someone with chocolates, flowers and fancy dinner. But why? Are we really to believe that the greeting card companies came up with the idea? There must be more to it than that, right? I mean, I like chocolate and flowers as much as the next girl but I wanted to know the meaning behind such a romantic holiday. Behold the Legend of St. Valentine. 

It turns out that St. Valentine was a Roman priest in the third century. This emperor named Claudius the Goth was persecuting the Christian church (he could basically have you killed if you associated with the Christians) and he had a rule saying that young people couldn't be married. Apparently the idea was that soldiers who were single fought better than soldiers who were married. Claudius thought his army might chicken out because they didn't want to die and leave their families behind. Well, Valentinus wasn't having it. He was devoted to the beliefs of Christ and wasn't about to give that up...even if he was threatened with death. Keep in mind that polygamy was the way of the day during that time and monogamous marriages where way outnumbered. The church, of course, believed that marriage is sacred and between one man and one woman for life. So Valentinus tried to encourage it. He set about to secretly marrying people. 

St. Valentine eventually got busted, tortured and imprisoned. While he was in the clink, a guy named Asterius, one of the men who was supposed to judge him in line with the Roman law, asked him to heal his blind daughter. He had heard that Valentinus was a skilled healer and had performed miracles. He must have been desperate to heal his daughter because he was risking his own life. Valentinus prayed with and healed the young girl. A grateful Asterius took up the Christian faith. 

Valentinus healing the blind girl from his cell.

In 269 AD Valentinus was sentenced to a three part execution. First a beating, then a stoning, and finally a beheading, all because of his stand on Christian marriage. According to legend the last words he wrote were in a message to Asterius' daughter. He inspired today's romantic letters by signing it, "from your Valentine". 

Valentinus's execution was carried out on February 14th, 270 AD. near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He became know as the patron saint of lovers and in 496 Pope Gelasius named February 14th St. Valentine's Day.

Porta Valentini in Rome.

It's a tragic story and not very romantic, if you ask me. I mean, sure he wrote a sweet sentiment to the young blind girl, but he was a man of God and probably a lot older than her. Gross. Also, I read that the reason he got caught in the first place is because he tried to convert Emperor Claudius the Goth. Not a very smooth move. All said and done, it is a legend and we don't know how much of it is truth. 

I take marriage very seriously and feel it is the most precious commitment we can make to another person. All that polygamy stuff gives me the willies so I'm happy that Valentinus was around to help change things even if he was a creepy old guy who was in love with a young blind girl. Happy Valentine's Day! ;)

~ Love & Light ~

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