For each person who celebrates St Valentines day as a rejoicing for romantic love, there are two naysayers who write it off as either “miserable” for singletons, or a “commercialized” holiday.
I am inclined to agree with the notion that it is commercialized, however, the idea that its just for lovers is absurd.
Not many people will know the history of St Valentine, so perhaps they can be forgiven for not realising his historical importance, and what he actually stands for.
I suppose you’re all big enough to make up your own minds about what he stands for, and what the “holiday” stands for, but to me Valentines day is a reminder of sticking by your faith, beliefs and standing in the face of adversity.
Not much is known about Valentine’s status, but its believed he was a Priest, or maybe a Bishop, in the 3rd Century, operating in and around Rome. When the Emperor Claudius II Gothicus banned marriage in Italy in order to build an army (he couldn’t sign up married men), Father Valentine continued to marry people in secret Christian services, even though Christians were being persecuted by the Roman Empire.
When the Emperor found out, Valentine was imprisoned, beaten and eventually beheaded. However, before he died, he is rumored to have written a note to the Blind Daughter of the Emperor, who upon receiving the note, regained sight, and was able to see the message, which read that she should never lose faith or love for God, and was signed “From Your Valentine”.
His martyrdom for preserving Christian sacraments, and miracle working gained him Canonization, but the Catholic church no longer celebrates a liturgy for St Valentine. The Anglican Church, however, does, along with the Lutheran church and several other Christian denominations.
It’s also worth noting that St Valentine was never associated with romantic love (Eros) until Geoffrey Chaucer began to write in the 1300s, when Courtly Love was ‘in fashion’ – which was followed by St Valentine being used as a symbol for young couples and romantic connections.
The idea of the “Valentines Card” is actually a throwback to Father Valentine’s reminder to the Emperor’s daughter to remain true to God, and an immense act of love towards his persecutor’s family, so all of you people who refuse to celebrate Valentines day are sort of refusing to acknowledge the immense commitment to faith and community exhibited by the 3rd Century priest that ultimately led to his brutal death.
THAT is love, not romantic love, but love for self-identity.
That is proper commitment.
p.s. The Picture in this post is the rose-crowned skull of St Valentine of Rome, which can be seen in the Basilica de Santa Maria.