“From your Valentine”

First, happy valentine’s day! I hope you’re feeling all the love no matter what kind of relationships you have. Second, I’m sorry to break your expectation but this isn’t a lovey-dovey romantic blog post. Third, this is somehow an educational *slash* historical, but also my own form of celebrating the highest form of love.

You might be wondering about the origin of this romantic day. As flowers, heart-shaped balloons, and cakes with “I love you” written on top all over your newsfeed, you might have asked yourself, who (or what) started valentine’s day?

Or did you not?

Anyway, whether you did wonder or not, I’m compelled to share something with you. There have been a lot of accounts about this day, who St. Valentine was and whether this day is really about him. Others say that there have been several martyrs named Valentine or Valentinus, but two of them have more solid account (Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni), from the early centuries and might have been the reference of such wonderful day.

There are a lot of stories (or legends) about him (others say that the assumed several martyrs named Valentine are one). Some say that he fell in love with the daughter of one of his prison guards and wrote a letter with a sign off “From your Valentine”, hence the infamous sign off in letters during the day. He was beheaded for continually converting pagans into Christianity. Another story states that he helped set free prisoned Christians, which has nothing to do with romance at all. Others said that it was originally a pagan feast of fertility for women to conceive healthy babies, and they just synced the celebration for St. Valentine to Christianize the feast. Others say that the death of St. Valentine is Feb. 14, and so, it intersected with the pagan feast .Another account states that he secretly conducted marriages, which was against by then law that men should not get married because unmarried men are stronger soldiers, which is best for wars.

The lack of evidence and accounts about St. Valentine is due to the situation around the first centuries or the early Christian church. A lot of the accounts from their time didn’t survive as pagans would destroy whatever that’s pointing to faith or belief on the one true God.

Around 1st to 7th century are the when the heavy persecutions of Christians happened. We can read the Bible where the apostles was beheaded, crucified, killed because of their faith. That kind of treatment towards Christians were visible even centuries after. That’s why many of the “saints” recognized by the Catholic church lived during this range of years, such as Saints Perpetua, Felicity, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Polycarp.

(I really believed that we can learn so much from the stories of these martyr “saints”. We can honor them and set their lives as an example but not worship them as equal to God.)

The martyrdom of the “saints” are clearly a great example for Christians. Most of their stories state that they were given chances to convert into paganism, deny the God they served, and continue to live. But of course as we know it, they chose to give up their earthly lives to gain the eternal one with the Lord. Their faith, how they handled persecution, and how they strived to continue pursuing the Lord really make you think and strive to pursue God no matter what. One of them is St. Valentine.

St. Valentine’s life story might be so vague, as much as the origin of why St. Valentine’s day became a romantic day, but one thing is sure, he died because of his faith.

He was one of those martyrs whose faith sets an example for us as to how to respond to the highest form of love. I believe that he clearly understood what Jesus did for him that he can do the same for his Savior. Although Jesus doesn’t need saving, Valentine fought for his testimony and faith in Jesus.

Reading stories from Christian martyrs, I sometimes wondered if I would or could do the same thing if I were in their shoes. Am I brave enough to surrender my life for God? Am I ready to die for Him? Does my faith strong enough to give up my life to show that Jesus means more to me than my own breath?

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 ESV

With all honesty, given that I haven’t even received persecutions a quarter of theirs, I still couldn’t conclude with a Yes or No. All I could ask is for God to fill my heart with His love so that I could be more Christ-like every day. That’s when I always get reminded that it’s not really about my bravery or readiness or strong enough faith but more about who Jesus is and what He has done for me.

This has been on my previous post, but here this goes again. We can do all things in Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). To keep standing in our faith, to be brave enough to do His will, to be loud enough to proclaim His love, we need supernatural strength that comes from Him alone. And that supernatural strength is available because He who loves us with an everlasting love made a way: He died on the cross for our sins and rose again to show us that His love is the real deal—the love from the ultimate “Valentine”.


Readings:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valentines-Day
https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day

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