To say I'm an expert on the history of Valentines day would be a rather large lie considering my research consists of 3 articles written. But I thought it was interesting enough to share with you.
article found here:
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure.
You can read more on Valentines Day in the article. It shares a lot of Rome's traditions and gods. Oddly, reading about Roman culture always makes me feel a little better about the culture we live in today.
How we can use this Holiday:
In my mind, Valentine's Day is very much a secular holiday with how society celebrates it. However, we have a chance as Christians to use this holiday to preach, yes preach it, or just share two of the greatest commandments in the Christian faith. Love God and love people. There is so much more to the Christian faith than just love but if we do not have love we do not have faith. Think about that last sentence. If we do not have love, we do not have faith.
Love is plastered and taught all throughout the Old and New Testament. Love is why God created the world, love is what sent God's plan into motion after Adam and Eve (we) walked away from him. Love is behind the Exodus. Love is behind the promised Messiah. Love is what sent Jesus (God himself) down to earth for us. Love, the ultimate, sacrificial love is what sent Jesus to the Cross for you and me. And Love is us obeying the Great Commission and sharing Jesus's name throughout the world.
As Valentine's Day comes, take this next week to take in the love of God, share with your children what true love looks like, and live out his love to those who surround you. We often speak of purpose in our lives. Well, this is our purpose. To love God and love others and be on mission for He who deeply loves us.
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