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February 15, 2007

St. Valentine the Martyr

Note: This post was written yesterday but Typepad kept crashing and I wasn't able to post it.

Today is a very special day for most of us, especially as we think about those we love.  I also think about Christ and His great love for us.  In fact, how can you not think about God today…since He is Love.

Since very few people know that St. Valentine was a martyr, I wanted to highlight a wonderful post written by blogger Chad Lavender concerning a little background about St. Valentine.  Chad writes the following:

    There are more facts and fables surrounding Valentine’s Day than just about any other holiday. One of the most fascinating is the true story of Saint Valentine himself. Although searches turned up a number of saints named Valentine, one is most likely the namesake of our familiar holiday.

    He is credited with helping Christians during the persecution by Claudius II, the Roman Emperor in the 3rd Century. The Romans, at the time, made it a crime to provide even aid or comfort to Christians. According to history Valentinus was thrown into a dungeon. His jailor, Asterious, was not overly harsh but the priest had only the barest of necessities of life. His one comfort while in prison was his friendship with Asterious’ daughter, his blind daughter, who befriended the kindly priest by bringing him food and delivering messages.

    After a year in jail, Valentinus was summoned to appear before Claudius II. The Emperor was so impressed with the young priest’s dignity that Claudius attempted to convert him to worshiping Roman gods to save him from execution. Valentinus, however, refused to renounce Christianity and attempted to convert the Emperor to Christianity. Claudius became furious, and ordered that Saint Valentine be beaten with clubs, stoned, and executed.

    In the last days of his life, Valentinus, through his faith, restored the sight of the jailer’s daughter. He also converted Asterious and the girl to Christianity, an act which would eventually result in their execution as well. On the eve of his execution, the priest wrote a farewell message to the girl and signed it, "From your Valentine." His execution was carried out on February 14, 269 A.D., outside the Flaminian gate in Rome. According to legend, a pink almond tree, a symbol of abiding love, blossomed near his grave.

    The valentine has become the universal symbol of friendship and affection shared each anniversary of the priest’s execution. The day we affectionately call Valentine’s Day.

For other information on Valentines Day check out St. Valentine on Wikipedia.

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