As we come upon the Holiday that celebrates love for each other, let us not forget the ultimate love that has been given to us freely. Some passages in the Bible that show us this are: Psalms 136:2, John 3:16, 1 John 4:10
The original Valentines Day, February 14th, was to honor Juno, who was believed to be the Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses, and the the Feast of Lupercalia (a fertility festival) started the following day. During this time period the teen boys and girls were kept separate. On February14ththey practiced a custom called "Drawing" where all the Roman girls names were written on a slip of paper and the young men would draw out a name. That couple would then be together throughout the festival. Sometimes, the couple would choose to be together for the whole year, and the matches often resulted in marriages.
When Claudius II became Emperor of Rome the country became involved in multiple bloody wars. Since only single men were forced to go into the army Claudius was having problems getting men to join. It was because of this that Claudius decided to cancel all engagements and marriages.
A Roman priest, named Valentine, often helped Christians escape prisons where they were treated very badly. When this new marriage decree was created, he joined together with another priest, Marius, and together they secretly performed wedding ceremonies for those who still wanted to be married. Valentine was caught and placed in jail under a death sentence. While in jail, people would visit and give Valentine cards and flowers to encourage him. During this time he became close friends with the jailer's daughter. On February 14, 269 A.D. his time came to be executed. He left her a note and signed it "From your Valentine."
In 469 A.D. Emperor Gelasius declared February 14th as a holy day to honor Valentine and other saints, which then replaced the Feast of Lupercalia. Instead of pulling girls names out of a box they would pull out names of martyred saints and reflect on them. It was not until the Renaissance of the 14th century that the customs returned to celebrating love and life, rather than faith and death.
While it's great to celebrate and show our loved ones how much we care about them, we should remember Valentine who used the gifts God gave him to do His works. Even though his actions resulted in death, he stayed faithful to God and what he believed in!
Valentine's Day and True (Sacrificial) Love
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