Many of you know my penchant for collecting the legends and folktales about flowers. Sometimes one stumbles across a story connected to the traditions that we celebrate today. I thought you might enjoy this account:
There is not a definitive historical account about St. Valentine but a wonderful story comes down to us from the time of the Roman Empire when Claudius II was emperor in 270 AD. He was known as Claudius the Cruel. He came by this moniker because of his policies toward marriage. He did not want his soldiers distracted from his plans for empire expansion and he abolished marriage and arrested anyone who disobeyed.
In defiance, a priest named Valentine practiced and preached his faith and did marriages in secret. He was eventually found out, arrested and jailed. Even in his incarceration, Valentine ministered to prisoners and guards alike – proclaiming his faith and the love that flowed from it. It is said that the young couple whom he had married came to visit him and offered tributes of flowers.
One of his guards had a daughter who was blind. Even though he knew his life would be in great danger, the guard brought his daughter to Valentine to pray for her sight. Her vision was restored and the news of this miracle quickly spread. The emperor upon hearing this news ordered Valentine to be put to death.
Awaiting execution, Valentine was visited by the young woman whose sight had been restored. She would bring him his meals and then stay to talk with him. The became quite fond of one another. On his day of execution, he wrote a farewell letter to her and signed it ” From your Valentine.”
He was beheaded on February 14th and because of his faith and the miracle of restoring sight to the young woman he became St. Valentine. There is an arch named and dedicated to him in Rome. While this story might have faded into the background we still honor and celebrate love on February 14th.
May you love and be loved this Valentine’s Day!