St. Valentine was a martyr. He was a priest during the second century who preached that marriage was between one man and one woman. Because of his belief and preaching, Emperor Claudius II had him arrested. While he was in prison, he befriended a prison guard whose daughter was blind. Legend says that through his prayers the young girl was cured of her blindness. Valentine exchanged letters with the young lady and the last letter was signed, “from your Valentine,” just before he was tortured and eventually beheaded. St. Valentine defended and lived for his faith to the point of death. This is a romantic story.
Where’s the romance, you may ask? The romance lies within St. Valentine’s heart and his strong mind. St. Valentine combined his faith with powerful reasoning skills and stood up for what he knew was right in the eyes of God. It is his intense love for God that we learn the true meaning of romance. St. Valentine would rather lose his life than lose his beloved God. This love was shown by his prayers by another of God’s children, the young blind girl. For it is in loving others that we permeate the world with Christ’s abundant love.
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday; a day commonly known as the beginning of Lent. There are strong similarities between Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. At the core, both days are messages of love. It is because Christ sacrificed Himself out of love for us that St. Valentine was able to sacrifice himself out of love for Christ.
This year, I will be happy to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday with my husband, my two young children and my 152 students. Valentine’s Day is a known for the flowers, chocolate and sweet sentiments. It’s the only martyrs feast day that we celebrate in such a way. Perhaps it’s better that we return to our origin and remember that we came from dust and it is to dust that we will return.
St. Valentine is known as the patron saint of lovers. With St. Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday being on the same day, we will be reminded of the sacrificial love of Christ by going to church and receiving ashes on our forehead. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a holiday about love than to reflect on the merciful love of Christ.