Happy Valentine's Day!
Saint Valentine, the Christian figure honored on this day, died for his belief that two people in love had the right to be married. Valentine was a bishop in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius II. In response to Rome's crumbling influence and power, as those formerly under the Emperor's control began to push back against the Empire's expansive rule, Claudius banned marriage.
The Emperor's justification was that marriage made soldier's weak. Many citizens, including the Bishop Valentine, were aghast at this turn of events.
Valentine remedied this by meeting with lovers in secret and marrying them in defiance of the new edict. The religious figure was eventually discovered and punished severely for his actions.
Why do we exchange cards on Valentine's Day? It's believed that the Roman bishop left a kind note to the jailer's daughter ahead of his execution that he signed, "From Your Valentine."
The idea that Valentine's Day could be associated with something so violent may shock persons who associate it with candy and roses, but it turns out that all three men known as St. Valentine were martyred.
Of the three, it's believed that February 14 is most associated with this particular Saint Valentine. This bishop was the most popular of the group of martyrs, and most associated with lovers. Although, it's possible that the holiday is associated with a composite of the three men.
What are some important takeaways from Valentine's Day with this in mind?
There was a time when Christian monogamy was not only against the norm, but in a specific incidence, it was against the law. If you wanted to spend your life with one other person, you would have to be married in secret by a priest willing to risk his life so that you could be together.
Nearly two thousand years later and things have changed quite a bit. Valentine's Day is celebrated by monogamous lovers and happily married couples.
Marriage rights are still an issue, only the persons wishing to be recognized are same-sex couples, and in some cases, polygamous couples.
If the most famous Saint Valentine were alive today, do you think he'd defy laws and customs to marry persecuted couples?
[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]