February 1, 2016
February is often referred to as the month of Love since it is the month in which we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. There is very little actually known about St. Valentine, but Catholic tradition describes Saint Valentine, as the former Bishop of Terni in central Italy. While under house arrest, Valentine began a discussion about the validity of Jesus with Judge Asterius. The judge put Valentinus (His Latin name) to the test and brought to him his adopted blind daughter. If Valentinus succeeded in restoring the girl’s sight, Asterius would do anything he asked. Tradition records that Valentinus laid his hands on her eyes and the child’s vision was restored. Immediately humbled, the judge asked Valentinus what he should do. Valentinus replied that all of the idols around the judge’s house should be broken, the judge should fast for three days, and then be baptized. The judge obeyed, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority, and was baptized along with his family and his forty-four-member household. Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to preach the faith and was sent to the to the emperor Claudius II. When Valentinus tried to convince Claudius to embrace Christianity, Claudius condemned him to death, commanding that Valentinus either renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs, and beheaded. Valentinus refused and Claudius’ command was executed on February 14, 269AD.
Valentine’s reputation as the Saint of Love appears to come from the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 (an illustrated biblical paraphrase and record of world history). In the Chronicle alongside a woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was martyred during the reign of Claudius II after being imprisoned for marrying Christian couples, which at the time was considered a crime.
Whether the history around St. Valentine is accurate or not, his love for the Lord, which produced in him a testimony and willingness to love not his own life in order to escape death (Rev 12:11), is truly what we should all model.
Jesus simply tells us, “Greater love has no man than this, that lay down his life for his friends.” Valentine’s love was shown in that he laid his life down for Jesus. Because Valentine demonstrated the “greater love” of which Jesus spoke, we commemorate his life and sacrifice every February 14th.