There’s nothing very romantic about a man being beheaded because of his politically incorrect views. But February 14 marks the 1744th anniversary when tradition tells us that St. Valentine was executed in the Roman Empire for practicing his Christianity.
This was under a persecution of Emperor Claudius II, who banned his soldiers from marrying because he thought that single men could serve as better warriors.
He also forced the emperor-worship of a predecessor, Gallienus, upon the empire. This was something practicing Jews and Christians could not do---they worshiped God alone.
Author Bill Federer notes the consequences of Claudius’ actions on an Italian bishop (or priest?) named Valentine: “When the Emperor demanded the Church violate its conscience and worship pagan idols, Bishop Valentine refused to comply.”
Not only did Valentine not worship the emperor, he also surreptitiously married young couples.
Federer notes, “Saint Valentine was arrested, dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and then have his head cut off on February 14, 269 AD.”
Before he was beheaded, tradition tells us he prayed for the warden’s ill child, and she got better. The bishop wrote her a small note and said it was "from your Valentine."
As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know, the rest of the story.”
Valentine’s Day is a great time to remember the importance of love in marriage. Something that seems to be often lacking these days. I just learned this week is National Marriage Week USA.
I gave a speech at my wedding in 1980 in my wife’s church in Norway on “The Ten C’s of a Happy Marriage.” I don’t remember everything I said, but here a few key points I made.
The first “C” of a happy marriage for us is Christ, the foundation of our marriage. When we made Him #1 in our lives, everything else worked out, come what may.
About twenty years ago, I was on the road around Valentine’s Day. I called a florist to request flowers to be sent to my wife, and I dictated this message to accompany the flowers:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I love you the most,
Except for you know who.
The florist didn’t understand and was reluctant to even write it up that way. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure.” My wife, Kirsti, picked up the message right away, as to the “you know who.”