Valentine of Rome was a Christian priest in the 200s. His holiday, February 14, at some point became credited with “courtly love” and has morphed into a holiday today associated with dating both in and out of marriage.
I think liberty-minded Americans can look at his traditional story, and use Valentine’s Day to learn something about the way our society is going today.
We don’t have much information about Valentine. But the two stories associated with his life, should resonate better with Americans now, than at any other point in our history.
Consider the story of Valentine with the jailer. Valentine was a priest. He would marry Christians, and he would help Christians driven into hiding by the ongoing persecution by the government. Both of these were crimes in Rome in that day, so Valentine himself was arrested. However when confronted with his jailer, he managed to be released.
According to the official hagiographies, Valentine was challenged by the jailer to prove that his faith was true. The jailer’s blind daughter was brought out. If that daughter could be cured, he said, Valentine would be freed. Well, Valentine is said to have laid hands on the daughter, and she was cured. So the jailer freed Valentine, converted to Christianity, and brought dozens of people with him.
Valentine is said to have then gone on to befriend the Emperor, Claudius Gothicus. But when he tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity, Claudius refused. Then the tables were turned, and Valentine was demanded to renounce Christianity. Valentine refused, and was killed on February 14. His last written words were reportedly “Your Valentine.”
So who was Valentine? He was a devoted Christian who believed in marriages of one man and one woman, who believed in talking about his faith openly, and promoted the view that government officials should be influenced by the Christian faith. He was persecuted and killed for these beliefs.
Valentine’s struggles with the Romans are uncomfortably similar to today’s struggles Christians have with our government today, under Barack Obama’s leadership. We need to do something before it gets as bad as it was in the Roman days, don’t we?