Tomorrow is the big day. Valentine’s Day is here. And I agree the day truly deserves celebrating. It’s the how that bothers me.
For the millions who celebrate this day of romance and spending, I mean love, precious few really know the origin of the day, and how it has been warped by Madison Avenue into a consumeristic orgy of romance.
Even thought the extant accounts of his life vary, Valentine, or Valentinus in Latin, is a widely recognized third century Roman saint. Saint Valentine’s Day has been celebrated as a feast day since the High Middle Ages.
The feast of St. Valentine on February 14 was actually established in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius I. he included Valentine among those “…whose names are justly revered among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”
Although there are several divergent stories of this saint’s life, the most widely recognized is that Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius Gothicus. The priest Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned aiding Christians who were being heavily persecuted during this period.
Refusing to renounce his faith, Valentine was sentenced to death. He was to be beaten with clubs and then beheaded. One legend says that while in jail and awaiting his execution, Valentine restored the sight of the jailer’s blind daughter. On the eve of his his execution the saint penned a farewell note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it, “From your Valentine.”
So now, in honor of this martyred saint, we spend untold millions of dollars to demonstrate our affection to one another. There are far better ways to demonstrate love, and far better ways, as well, to honor the life of a saint.