Within the constructs of our secular society, there are those very rare days when we feel inclined to celebrate a saint of the Catholic Church (Saint Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day). Sadly, these important events have turned into a commercialized, “let’s-get-drunk and have a party” occasions…the lives of the saints are forgotten, ignored, or worse, not known.
Don’t you find it odd that all of us look forward (at least a little bit) to Saint Valentine’s Day, and yet so few of us actually know the story of Saint Valentine’s life? What is it we are celebrating, and why?
Historical records show that there may have been three different men known as Valentine, however it is likely that two of these were really the same man (St. Valentine). St. Valentine is known as the patron saint of love, young people, and happy marriages. Below is his story:
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes.
It is also believed that while he was imprisoned, Saint Valentine performed a miraculous healing and restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. Though the details of Valentine’s life remain incomplete, I find that we can draw great wisdom from his life in relation to the Pro-Life cause. First of all, it is important to remember that Valentine was imprisoned, beaten, and executed in the name of his faith. As a worker in the pro-life field, one can be a victim of great animosity and hostility. I hope we can draw strength from Saint Valentine and all the other saints who laid down their lives for the Lord, keeping in mind the precept, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14).
Secondly, on this feast of Saint Valentine, let us not forget the he is the patron saint of love and married couples. Bringing an end to abortion requires that society develop an awareness and great respect for the Sacrament of Marriage. Without the institution of family, society will collapse. There is a proper order that is preserved through marriage, and in it we find development, joy, peace, and prosperity. On this day let us all make a prayer to Saint Valentine, that married couples may continuously find strength in Christ, that those discerning marriage be led along the right path, and that those who have suffered divorce, broken relationships, or marital abuse may find the courage to rise up again and believe in the power of Christ’s redemptive love. Enjoy the feast of Saint Valentine’s, and please share his beautiful story!