From Your Valentine
Posted by james0235 on February 14, 2008
There were many men who lived in different times and in different places who held the name Valentinus, or Valentine. It was a very common name in the Roman Empire. The root of the name (“Valens”) means “worthy”. We know of at least one bishop, one priest, and one layman who held the name who were martyred for the faith.
According to some sources the Valentine from whom we get St. Valentine’s Day was a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius the Goth believed that men made better soldiers when they did not have a family to worry about. So, he outlawed the Sacrament of Marriage. Valentine refused to obey the law and continued to perform marriages. For this the Prefect of Rome ordered him put to death unless he agreed to renounce his faith and to cease marrying young couples. Valentine refused and was martyred on February 14 in the year 269 or 270 A.D. He was beaten with clubs, then stoned, and finally beheaded.
It is said that while awaiting execution Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer of her blindness. On the eve of his death he wrote her a letter and signed it “From your Valentine”.
In England, around the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the Canterbury Tales), it became common for young couples to become engaged on or within 1 week of St. Valentine’s Day. The betrothed would refer to each other as their Valentine in honor of the man martyred for his defense of the Sacrament of Marriage.
St. Valentine is honored in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on February 14th, the date of his martyrdom for his defense of the Sacrament of Marriage. St. Valentine’s Day would therefore seem to be much better suited as a time for the celebration of Marriage and for the renewal of wedding vows than merely for the exchange of flowers and candy.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine, Thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all the evils that threaten us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
(Collect, Commemoration of St. Valentine, 1962 Roman Missal)