Today is Valentine’s Day — the day when TV commercials nag men to buy roses, candy, and jewelry for their wives or girl friends.
But did you know that the day is named after a real person, St. Valentine?
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of February 14th. But the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named most likely was a priest at Rome who, in the second half of the 3rd century, was arrested and killed by the Emperor Claudius for secretly marrying Christian couples during a time of persecution in the Church. Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, “From Your Valentine.”
The popular customs associated with Valentine’s Day probably came from a conventional belief in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. [Source: Catholic Encyclopedia]
So what is love?
I can find no better definition and description of true love than the words of St. Paul:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
And here’s the true meaning of Valentine’s Day:
The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul, and with all your strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today!