Valentine's: Exploring origin of the holiday

Published on Friday, 14 February 2014 22:28 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, which many of us celebrate by showering our loved ones with flowers and chocolates (or in my husband’s case, a comic book and pork chops). But do you know the true story of Saint Valentine?

Many so-urces agree that Valentine is a saint shrouded in mystery; th-ere are several different accounts about him and no one is really sure which is correct.

My favorite story is one that the Christian Broadcasting Network reported.

Valentine was a Roman priest during the reign of Claudias II. The emperor was persecuting the church, and he prohibited marriages of young people.

“This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died,” the article explained.

Of course, this was problematic for young Christians in love. Even though society was very permissive at the time, a devout Christian’s only options were celibacy or forbidden marriage.

Do you remember when you were first in love with the person who would eventually become your spouse? Your thoughts, all day, every day, were consumed with them. Saying goodbye at the end of the day was nearly torture.

You wanted to be with them all the time, no matter what you were doing. Research has actually shown that being in love literally affects your brain the same way as the high you get from drugs.

Imagine all that; then imagine hearing the edict that you can’t marry the person you’re in love with.


Enter St. Valentine.

He not only encouraged young Christians to marry, he preformed marriages in secret.

Valentine so believed in Christian love and the beauty of marriage that he risked his life for it.

He had to know the risks; Rome wasn’t known for discretion when it came to punishing those who defied her.

Ultimately, Valentine was executed for his actions on Feb. 14, 269 AD. While some of my more cynical friends like to point out that we are celebrating on the day of his death, I think Valentine would like to be remembered for what he gave his life for: love that says “I will never leave you or forsake you.” That’s the love that marriage strives for.