What Shall We Say about…
 St. Valentine?

By Tosha Williams

Valentine’s month brings hearts and cupids, cards and pictures everywhere celebrating love. It’s a great time to show people how much we care about them. It’s also a great time to be inspired by the true story behind the holiday.

Valentine’s Day is named after a real person, Valentine of Terni. Valentine was born in Italy in 226 A.D., about 200 years after Jesus’ resurrection.

Church history says that Valentine grew up to be a person who loved God, His Word and people very much. At the age of 21, Valentine committed his life to Christian ministry, becoming an ordained bishop. Many legends surround his years of ministry, during which he encouraged people to love one another.

Sadly, Valentine lived during a time in history when Christians were persecuted for their faith. He was thrown in jail, not because he did wrong, but because of the evil Emperor Claudius the 2nd. Claudius despised Valentine’s faith in God, desire to tell others about Jesus and belief in the sanctity of marriage.

Still, while Valentine was a prisoner, he continued to love God and others, not just in some chapters but in all chapters of his life. Like Joseph in the Old Testament, Valentine earned the respect of his jailor, named Asterius. Over time, Asterius grew to like Valentine so much that he brought Valentine food and gifts in jail. Even more significant, Asterius eventually introduced Valentine to his blind daughter. Church history says that, when Valentine found out she was blind, he prayed for her and asked God to miraculously restore her sight – and God healed her! This miracle bonded Valentine and Asterius’ daughter for life.

Valentine remained in prison, but his popularity grew as people heard about the miracle and his testimony of love. Unfortunately, persecution of Christ-followers also grew. Threatened by Valentine’s story, the Roman government decided they needed to silence his life. Valentine was sentenced to death for his faith.

Just before he was taken from his cell to his execution, Valentine wrote Asterius’ daughter a final letter. In it, he encouraged her to always thank God for His miracle in her life and to always walk closely with the Lord. Valentine closed his letter with the phrase: “From Your Valentine.”

On February 14, 273 A.D., Valentine was put to death by the Roman government. However, a story of real love cannot be silenced. Down through the centuries, Valentine’s encouraging letter of love led to the tradition of sending “valentines” on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s example reminds us that, instead of just talking about love, God wants us to show love. Valentine wrote a “love letter,” but he also prayed for his friends, interceded for miracles, loved in all chapters of his story and encouraged others to follow God.

It’s one thing to say “I love you;” it’s another thing to show “I love you.” We can send words and letters and valentines, but we back up those statements of love with our actions, encouragement and prayers, just like Valentine did. Words are wonderful, and then actions prove our words are real and true.

On Valentine’s Day and always, the story of St. Valentine encourages and challenges us to have our own stories of love for Jesus. May we ever follow in Valentine’s footsteps, loving God and others in every chapter of our lives.

© 2020 Tosha L. Williams, Family Disciple Me

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