In February we celebrate Valentine’s Day after St Valentine where we are supposed to buy gifts for our loved one. It is also the month I celebrate my wedding Anniversary and the birth of my youngest daughter in successive weeks. My Dad never really celebrated Valentine’s day as he said he loved my mum every day. No he wasn’t a Yorkshireman!
But who is Valentine?
St. Valentine was a Priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D.
He helped young couples get married so they did not have to go and fight in the Emperor’s wars , he was also known for helping other Christians escape before they could be sent to their death by Claudius. Emperor Claudius sent out soldiers to find Valentine, which they did.
Claudius tried to get Valentine to renounce his faith in Christ, and to pledge allegiance to the Roman gods. If he did that, then the Emperor would free Valentine. But Valentine replied that they were false gods and that the God that Jesus called Father was the only true God. So the Romans threw him in prison.
While in prison Valentine continued to minister to anyone he could. One of the guards, a man by the name of Asterius, was a good man who had adopted a blind girl many years earlier when she was just a little child. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed for her, and God healed the girl, and restored her sight. Because of that, the guard and his whole family and all his relatives that were living in that area, 46 people, were baptized.
His devoted friends buried him in the church of St. Praxedes.
St. Valentine knew that he might get caught in his Christian activities and he also knew that if he continued to remain true to his faith in Christ that his life was in danger.
But he continued anyway, because he loved Christ with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and he loved his neighbour as himself. He was willing to risk his life to free the prisoners and spread the Gospel of Christ to those who needed to hear it.
“No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”(John 15:13) God showed us this love by coming in Christ to die for our sins. And St. Valentine demonstrated this love when he died for his friends, and for his faith in Christ. This is the kind of love that Valentine’s Day is really all about. And this is what his Feast Day of February 14 should bring to our minds. May God help us to have that same kind of love for others, and that same kind of commitment and faithfulness to Christ.
Revd David Messer