Will Someone Be St. Valentine?

Will Someone Be St. Valentine?

Church History

The warm and fuzzy feelings of Valentine’s Day are met with eager anticipation by some and skeptical eye rolls by others.

Romantic love steps into the spotlight in mid-February, but is that the type of love behind the holiday? A closer look at history reveals that romance has nothing to do with the man behind the hearts and chocolates. Rather, the love of St. Valentine points us all to the love of Christ.

Who was St. Valentine?

The origin of Valentine’s Day traces back to the historical figure St. Valentine. However, the legend of this saint more closely resembles Paul Bunyan than George Washington. From what we know about church history, there were two significant men named Valentine in the third century—a priest in Rome and a bishop in Terni, Italy—with miraculous stories attached to their names. Because of the passage of time, historians aren’t sure which events should be attributed to whom and tend to combine the two figures into one man.

Some sources say Valentine secretly married couples against imperial military policy. Others comment that he healed a blind woman in front of the imperial court, evidencing the power of the gospel to skeptical eyes. Regardless of what is true about the life of the Valentines, there is one historically reliable event historians agree that they share: each was executed for his faith under intense Roman persecution. All we can really know about Valentine is that he served as a Christian leader who gave his life for his faith. That story doesn’t make for a cute Valentine’s Day card.

So, why should we care about St. Valentine?

The celebration of Valentine’s Day that we know today didn’t begin until one thousand years after Valentine died. English poet Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned in his poem Parliament of Foules that birds choose their mate “halfway through the second month of the year.” Since that moment, Valentine’s Day has been associated with passionate courtship rather than remembering the life of a saint in service to Jesus.

But some of you may be thinking: “Why should we care about remembering saints from the past at all?” Looking to faithful men and women of the past who’ve followed Jesus can renew our love for God and inspire us to emulate their devotion.

Saints from church history are part of our “great cloud of witnesses” the author of Hebrews writes about in Hebrews 11 and 12. The example of Christians both present and historic should motivate us to action, saying, “Therefore . . . let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us . . . keeping our eyes on Jesus.”

So, consider Valentine. If all we can know with certainty about his life is that he was a faithful pastor under intense persecution, yet so committed to Jesus that he didn’t renounce his faith when threatened with death, that alone should be celebrated and emulated.

How can we emulate St. Valentine?

This Valentine’s Day, as we focus on romantic love through food, chocolate, or cards (no matter how cheesy they may be), let’s also model Valentine’s self-sacrificial love for God and others as a leader and a martyr for the faith. While we probably won’t be called to die for our faith, we are called to heed Jesus’s martyr-like words in Matthew 16:24–25: “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.”

Valentine’s Day should remind us that true love does exist—“No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

We would do well to emulate Valentine’s self-sacrificial love to others in a world desperate to see and know the love of Christ.

This is some text inside of a div block.
Park Lukich

Writer/Content Editor, RightNow Media

Equip your church, anytime, anywhere with RightNow Media.

If you’re a decision-maker at your organization, request a free consultation to find out how RightNow Media can equip and inspire your people.

Not a decision-maker?
Tell your pastor about RightNow Media instead.

You're in!
Look out for a confirmation email shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong. Please refresh the page.

Equip your church, anytime, anywhere with RightNow Media.

Learn More