There are so many creative Valentine’s Day displays around Smith Mountain Lake this year. Have you noticed? It is one of the few holidays that I don’t mind being commercialized. All the advertising just seems fun somehow.
It does make me think, however. Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day came to exist at all? Well here are some of the possible truths behind this lovely national holiday.
According to scholars, there are several possibilities as to the original Valentine. One story says that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the 3rd century. When Emperor Claudius II decided that unmarried men made better soldiers than those who had wives, he outlawed marriage for all of his soldiers.
Valentine believed Claudius to be depriving the men of a God-given gift and so defied him and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Another story indicates that a priest named Valentine was killed because he was caught helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured. This Valentine was a true saint and was known through history as a man of great character, not only attempting to save Christians who were being persecuted but also working with the poor at great cost to himself. He was a man devoted to love in the truest sense.
There are other stories as well. Whichever story is true, by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France. If even a fraction of the good said to be done by these Valentines of the past is true, then it is a day worth celebrating on more than one count.