Today is the day of love. Boxes of candy have flown off shelves and florists are more mobile than the iPhone. Hallmark sentiments abound, dinner reservations are made, and jewelers are hawking their wares in every mall in every corner of the world.
St. Valentine's Day is frequently associated with the mythological god Cupid, the god of desire, erotic love, and affection. Cupid, hearts, flowers, chocolate and romance. These are all words which describe our modern day St. Valentine's Day.
This day of recognition, however, was originally intended to either honor Christian martyrs or remember a pagan Roman festival.
There were at least three Valentines recognized by the Catholic church. According to history.com:
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Bishop Demetri of the Orthodox Research Institute, in a keynote address, states that "St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D, a time when the church was enduring great persecution. His ministry was to help the Christians to escape this persecution, and to provide them the sacraments, such as marriage, which was outlawed by the Roman Empire at that time." - from Wikipedia
Interestingly, history.com further explains:
While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around A.D. 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.
Lupercalia was a ritual performed by Roman priests who gathered annually, conducted specific animal sacrifices, and spread the blood on crops and women in order to increase fertility of both.
If I had to choose a historical "reason" to celebrate Valentine's Day, I would choose the reason that is all about love.
God gave us a timeless Valentine 2,000 years ago, when He declared, "I love you," in the boldest way it was ever declared and will ever be declared. He told us then, He tells us now, and He will always tell us. "I love you."
His declaration of love to us was a promise, acted out even when He poured out all His wrath upon His beloved Son who was nailed to a cross just outside Jerusalem. And His Son willingly accepted the hours of wrath ... all intended for us, His followers.
God's declaration of love was made personal to each and every one of us, and only through the suffering and death and subsequent resurrection of the only innocent man who ever lived could there be victory.
God's Valentine to us doesn't say, "You're Cute," or "Hot Stuff."
God's Valentine to us says, "I love you," and "Be Mine."
Do you hear Him telling you He loves you today? Listen, and you'll hear it.
Happy Valentine's Day!