Did you know that there is not one, but three different saints named Valentine who are officially recognized by the Catholic Church? They were all martyred for different reasons at different times; small wonder there’s so much confusion about what Valentine’s Day is really about.
The most popular story involves the Saint Valentine (or Valentinus) who lived as a priest in Rome during the third century. This was a time when Christians were still suffering persecution, but it would seem that the Romans weren’t having a great time themselves. The Emperor Claudius II decided that men without wives made better soldiers than those with. This makes some sense, but Claudius took things a bit too far when he then proceeded to outlaw marriage for all young men in the empire.
When Valentine heard about this new law, he was appalled. In secret, he continued to marry any couple who came to him for help. When Claudius found out about his activities, Valentine was arrested and executed.
With this historical backdrop in mind, it would seem that people in the twenty-first century have completely missed the point of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is not just about love or romance or sex.
It’s about rebellion.
Valentine’s Day should be a celebration of our right to shape our own destinies. It should be a celebration of a man who had the courage to stand behind his convictions and help others, no matter what the consequences might be.
Valentine’s Day is about passion; not of the flesh, but of the soul; a passion for justice and freedom. That’s something everyone can and should embrace, regardless of their relationship status; and it’s certainly worth celebrating with something more meaningful than a store-bought card and a box of chocolates.
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