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The Real Saint Valentine

A Note from Pastor Paul Boutan



This year Americans are expected to spend 22 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day, that’s a lot of chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, Americans are expected to spend $1.7 billion on candy and another $2 billion on flowers. This holiday, celebrated on February 14 by romantics worldwide, gets its name from a third century Roman Priest named Valentinus who was martyred on February 14, 270 AD.

According to medieval legend Valentinus was arrested during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius and placed in the custody of an aristocrat named Asterius. According to the legend there seems to be two reasons for his arrest. Apparently, Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers. Therefore, the Emperor banned soldiers from getting married. One version of the story says that Valentinus (or Valentine) continued to perform weddings for young soldiers who were in love which eventually led to his imprisonment. Perhaps this is how he became the Patron Saint of Love.

Another version of the story is that Valentinus defied Claudius by helping Christians escape the tortures of Rome. According to this legend, while Valentinus was in the custody of Asterius, he preached Christ to any who would listen and as a result many “pagans” came to salvation. Supposedly, Asterius made a bargain with Valentinus that if he could cure his foster-daughter of blindness, Asterius himself would convert to Christianity. Valentinus took a step of faith, put his hands over the girl’s eyes and prayed in the name of Jesus for the girl to be healed and amazingly she was. As a result, Asterius and his whole household were baptized. Unfortunately, when Emperor Claudius heard this news, he gave orders for the entire family to be put to death. But to make an example of Valentinus, he was publicly beheaded on February 14, 270 AD.

While “Saint Valentine” may not have been a hopeless romantic he was faithful believer who loved Jesus and gave his life for the gospel. He modeled the definition of “love” found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoke, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Perhaps Valentinus serves as the Patron Saint for anyone who loves Jesus.