This week I looked up the story of Valentine to share with our kids. The story had me as captivated as Santa Lucia! We are not Catholic, but these stories of faithful believers who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel are so compelling. Each saint and martyr encourages us to shine brighter, run the race harder and to live our faith out loud. I hope you enjoy this account of Saint Valentine.
Valentine was a priest in Rome during the 3rd century AD. He served the church while Claudius the Second was the emperor of Rome. Claudius was involved in many wars at the same time and was short on soldiers. He had a problem on his hands because men were not signing up for battle. He assumed this was because they were falling in love and it seemed husbands and fathers were less likely to put their life on the line for the sake of their country.
So he banned weddings and made it illegal to marry. Claudius believed that if the men could not marry they would ignore the women and want to be soldiers.
Valentine could see how dangerous of an idea this was⏤that men and women had to be allowed to marry or they would live together before making covenantal vows. So he secretly married couples in secluded places. He risked his life to help others live out the Christian intent for marriage.
Eventually, the Roman soldiers found out and arrested Valentine, and brought him to Emperor Claudius. Claudius urged Valentine to deny his beliefs and become a loyal Roman citizen. But Valentine would not renounce his faith in Christ. Valentine was sent to prison where he waited to be executed. It was there that he sent many letters to his friends in the faith, urging them to pray on his behalf, writing, “Always Remember your Valentine.”
But one day the Roman soldiers came for Valentine and he was executed. Records show he was killed on either February 14th or the 24th. This is why we take a day each year to celebrate our love for each other and our families⏤because of one faithful saint who sacrificed his life for his love of Christ and the church.