You may have read the story about how Valentine’s Day got its name. But did you believe everything you read? Popular lore centers on a priest from Rome in the 3rd century in the time of Emperor Claudius II. One story is that Claudius II had banned marriage because he believed that married men made poor soldiers, so a priest named Valentine performed the Sacrament of Marriage in secret. Needless to say, the Emperor was told about it. He threw Valentine in jail where, as the story goes, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and just before he was executed on February 14, AD 270, sent her a love letter signed “from your Valentine.”
Another story is that Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a festival to celebrate the beginning of Spring. In those days, it was customary for the local boys to draw the name of a local girl from a box to be his girlfriend for the festival. Some of the “instant matches” went on to be lifelong marriages.
According to the Catholic Church, there are three St. Valentines, all sharing February 14th as a feast day. The 1st Valentine was a priest and physician in Rome who comforted the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II. This is likely the same Valentine jailed by the Emperor (without the modern twist of fiction about being in love with the jailer’s daughter).
There was also a 2nd St. Valentine, and he too suffered persecution under Emperor Claudius II. This Valentine was the Bishop of Interamna (now Terni) located about 60 miles outside Rome.
The 3rd St. Valentine was also a martyr but in Africa; he with several others was murdered for their faith in God. The point is—all 3 were named Valentine and all 3 gave their lives for love of the Lord and His Church.
After the history of the martyrs, fast-forward to the English poet Chaucer who wrote regarding the coming of Spring, “For this was on St. Valentine’s day when every bird comes forth to choose his mate.” So from these fables, stories, poems, and a few fabrications, February 14 was dedicated to lovers and prompted the sending of letters, the giving of gifts, and all types of signs of affection, one sweetheart to the other, and eventually to everyone in grades 1 through high school during annual valentine card exchange.
In all of this, there’s a Christian message about love of the Lord—a sacrificial love—whereas Christ gave the ultimate gift of salvation. We humans give far less of a sacrifice than either Jesus or the three Valentines by openly and freely expressing our love for family, friends, and spouses.
As Scripture tells us when the scholars of the law tested Him with the question, “Which commandment is the greatest?”, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39) Can there be too many valentines? We think not.
On behalf of the Stewardship Foundation, it is our great pleasure to wish the clients and mission-oriented non-profits, and all our “neighbors” a blessed, heart-warming Valentine’s Day 2018. Always know that we are here to serve your charitable giving and gift planning needs, and please refer us to a friend, non-profit, or family member that you think might benefit from our services.