Would the real Saint Valentine please stand up?
Yes, it may seem funny, but if we look at the history of the Catholic Church, and what the martyrology (a catalog of Roman Catholic martyrs and saints) says, we will find that there are three Saint Valentines.
The first Saint Valentine was a priest and physician in Rome. He comforted the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II. Eventually, St. Valentine was also arrested, condemned to death for his faith, beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded on Feb. 14, AD 270.
The second Saint Valentine was the Bishop of Interamna (now Terni, located about 60 miles from Rome). Under the orders of Prefect Placidus, he too was arrested, scourged, and decapitated, again suffering persecution during the time of Emperor Claudius II.
The third Saint Valentine suffered martyrdom in Africa with several companions. However, nothing further is known about this saint. In all, these men, each named St. Valentine, showed heroic love for the Lord and His Church.
As we can see, these three men showed tremendous love for Christ to the point of suffering a very violent death.
Why February 14th?
So, where does the idea of celebrating love on February 14th come from?
The popular customs of showing love and affection on St. Valentine’s Day are almost a coincidence with the feast day of the saint. During the Medieval Age, a common belief in England and France was that birds began to pair on February 14 “half-way through the second month of the year.” Chaucer wrote in his “Parliament of Foules” (in Old English), “For this was on Seynt Valentyne’s day, When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” For this reason, the day was dedicated to “lovers” and prompted the sending of letters, gifts, or other signs of affection.
Love one another as I have loved you (John 13: 34)
The love that God has for us is a self-giving love. This is the same love that God deposits in each one of us. We love because He loved us first.
On February 14th we celebrate God’s love. Many times, it is easy to forget that, but Saint Valentine is a clear example of how God’s love can help us live a less self-centered life and to love those around us, beginning with your spouse (if you are married) or your fiancé (if you are engaged). Read more about how to reenergize your relationship.
This Valentine’s Day let’s try to go beyond the red roses, hearts, and chocolates and delve deep into the real meaning of love: God is love! (1 John 4:16)