Not a lot of facts are known about St. Valentine. He was a Christian priest and bishop in and around Rome, who might have been a physician during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, who dedicated a lot of time to persecuting Christians.
According to legend, Valentine would secretly marry couples so the husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. Like other Christians, Valentine refused to offer sacrifices to pagan gods. He established churches and converted pagans to Christianity.
One common story about Valentine is that he was on house arrest with the Roman Judge Asterius. While discussing Valentine’s belief in his God, the judge challenged Valentine to heal the judge’s blind daughter. Placing his hands onto her eyes, Valentine restored the child’s vision.
Legend says he wrote a letter to the girl, signed “from your Valentine.” I have doubts this actually happened.
St. Valentine refused to renounce his Christian faith and was beaten with clubs and beheaded outside the gates of Rome on February 14, 269 or 270, 273 or 280. The exact year isn’t known.
Pope Julius I reportedly built a basilica over Valentine’s grave. The church has recently been excavated by archaeologists.
Valentine was named a saint and appointed to the Roman calendar in 496. He was removed from the calendar in 1969 due to the lack of factual information about him, rather than beloved legends.
Saint Valentine remains the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers.
Valentine’s Day as a festival dates from at least the 14th century, making it one of the oldest Christian holidays.
Also on the Christian calendar Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season.
The purpose of Lent is to prepare believers for Easter.
We reflect during this dedicated season, as we look forward to celebrating the resurrection of the Lord. Through prayer, repentance of sins, charity, simple living, self-denial and fasting, we observe the 40 days before Easter recognizing the 40 days Jesus spend in the wilderness.
The season of Lent calls attention to the ways in which the world will reject the revelation of God as found in the person of Jesus Christ. What do we do with such rejection? We continue to be the light of God in a dark world. To strive toward being better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today. That is all we can do. That is what Jesus calls us to do.