Saint Valentine of Rome
Priest and Martyr († 269)
Memorial: February 14
Valentine lived during the third century. He was a holy priest - possibly a bishop - in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. Valentine didn't like Emperor Claudius, and he wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared his feelings.
Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. Valentine thought it was preposterous! He certainly wasn't going to support that law!
Valentine was a priest. One of his favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, he kept on performing marriage ceremonies, secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and himself. They would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.
One night, they did hear footsteps. It was scary. Thank goodness, the couple Valentine was marrying, escaped in time. Valentine was caught. He was thrown in jail and they told him that his punishment was death.
Valentine tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit him. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.
One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit Valentine in the cell. Sometimes they would sit and talk for hours. She helped him to keep his spirits up. She agreed that he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. This jailer's daughter had become his friend. On the day they should bring Valentine to dead. On the day of his execution he left his friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it: "Love from your Valentine."
Valentine died by beheading in Rome, February 14, 269 A.D. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes at Rome.
Patron of: Love, Young People, Happy Marriages
I said a Valentine prayer for you
and asked the Lord above
to fill your heart and bless your soul
With the precious gift of love.
I asked Him for sincere love
The kind that's meant to stay
Just like the generous love
You give to those you touch each day.
I prayed for love from family
And from every cherished friend
Then I asked the Lord to give you
His love that knows no end.
- Author Unknown -