St. Valentine, Martyr

On this day in 270 A.D., a priest named  Valentine refused to renounce his faith, despite strenuous efforts to dissuade him and many benefits promised to him if he would only deny Christ.  Valentine refused, so he was first beaten with clubs and then beheaded. 

I wonder if this is another holiday co-opted by the secularists that Christians could reclaim.  (Yes, there are connections to love and marriage in the saint’s tales, though they seem to apply to another martyr named Valentine who married Christian couples despite the Emperor forbidding that practice.  He was also honored on this day, simply because he shared the name of the other guy, though he had no connection as such with February 14, unlike the man who died on that day.)But how could we breathe Christian meaning into this observance?  Celebrate the refusal to back down, whether in faith or in keeping one’s marriage vows despite all pressure?  Celebrate the institution of marriage even though the prevailing culture, like the old Emperor, works against it?  Who are some other martyrs for love?  What would be some good customs that we should start? Anyway, to brighten your day, here is a picture of his relics in Rome, including what is said to be his actual skull that was removed from his body. (We don’t venerate these relics, but they make a wonderfully grisly reminder of what this day is really about.) St. Valentine's Relics

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fw

    cool picture . made my day. would be great for a valentines day card.

  • fw

    cool picture . made my day. would be great for a valentines day card.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Wouldn’t it, though, Frank! Furthermore, I say we should replace the red heart as the Valentine’s Day symbol with the severed head. Or a skull with a little ribbon around it, as is depicted here.

    (Isn’t that the perfect detail in the way these relics are displayed? Grisliness set off with a sentimental ribbon.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Wouldn’t it, though, Frank! Furthermore, I say we should replace the red heart as the Valentine’s Day symbol with the severed head. Or a skull with a little ribbon around it, as is depicted here.

    (Isn’t that the perfect detail in the way these relics are displayed? Grisliness set off with a sentimental ribbon.)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    That would be an even better card than the Al Capone cards I made for V-D a few years back. :^)

    Sadly, only one person got the joke. Sigh.

    Well said, Frank.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    That would be an even better card than the Al Capone cards I made for V-D a few years back. :^)

    Sadly, only one person got the joke. Sigh.

    Well said, Frank.

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Pr. Paul A. Siems

    Perhaps it does not need to be re-claimed, but only claimed. Efforts to teach the history of the Lord’s blessed endurance given to those who trust Him are probably the best answer.

    Moreover, even emphasizing Valentine’s refusal to deny Christ is not the real point of the day, but rather, the love of God that ruled over his heart so that denial of Christ was not even possible. Otherwise, the day points to reliance upon our faithfulness rather than upon God’s faithfulness.

    For what it is worth, I utilized the day at my blog (Not Alone) with an emphasis on the miracle that God works in marriage, especially when marriage is a union in Him.

    I am inclined not to think of days as needing to be reclaimed, but simply acknowledged for what they are, days that Christ has reclaimed for His saints. Isn’t this really what we are called out of the world to enjoy and to testify, with words and with our lives (vocations)?

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Pr. Paul A. Siems

    Perhaps it does not need to be re-claimed, but only claimed. Efforts to teach the history of the Lord’s blessed endurance given to those who trust Him are probably the best answer.

    Moreover, even emphasizing Valentine’s refusal to deny Christ is not the real point of the day, but rather, the love of God that ruled over his heart so that denial of Christ was not even possible. Otherwise, the day points to reliance upon our faithfulness rather than upon God’s faithfulness.

    For what it is worth, I utilized the day at my blog (Not Alone) with an emphasis on the miracle that God works in marriage, especially when marriage is a union in Him.

    I am inclined not to think of days as needing to be reclaimed, but simply acknowledged for what they are, days that Christ has reclaimed for His saints. Isn’t this really what we are called out of the world to enjoy and to testify, with words and with our lives (vocations)?

  • Joe

    How about an evening serivce (think lent and advent) of confession and absolution followed by a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s love, which in turn enables us to love others.

  • Joe

    How about an evening serivce (think lent and advent) of confession and absolution followed by a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s love, which in turn enables us to love others.

  • http://puttingoutthefire.blogspot.com Frank

    Myself, I’ll start to work on taking back St. Valentine’s day as soon as I get through taking back the word evangelical.

  • http://puttingoutthefire.blogspot.com Frank

    Myself, I’ll start to work on taking back St. Valentine’s day as soon as I get through taking back the word evangelical.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    The thing I love most about the martyrs is that they laugh at those who kill them. They know that they can’t die. Jesus has said as much, “He lives and believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.”

    Death? Is that the best these persecutors can do. :-)

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    The thing I love most about the martyrs is that they laugh at those who kill them. They know that they can’t die. Jesus has said as much, “He lives and believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.”

    Death? Is that the best these persecutors can do. :-)

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