Thoughts on "Saints' Days" ~ St. Valentines, St. Patrick, St. Nick
February 14 celebrates St. Valentine, a Roman Christian leader that defied the Roman culture and paid for it with
his life, and in so doing made a stand for Christ that we acknowledge almost 2000 years later....
A History of St. Valentine’s Day
There is conflicting history of the origin of Valentine's Day, but the common thread among them all is that it was begun by a martyred patron saint, Valentinus, or Valentine. One story says that Valentine defied Claudius Caesar by continuing to perform marriages for young couples in secret. Claudius had outlawed marriage for young men because he wanted to draft them into the army.
Another story states that he was killed for helping Christians escape Roman prisons where they were tortured and killed.A legend states that Valentine sent the very first Valentine card to a jailor's daughter he fell in love with while in prison. He signed it, "From your Valentine." This expression is still used today.
Some histories/tales suggest that on February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270. Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine." For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death. In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February." One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa. Legends vary on how the martyr's name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine's Day. Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers.
March 17 celebrates leprechauns, but his life was so much more meaningful than these. Watch this CBN video on "The True Story of St. Patrick", a Briton slave who freed a people. Another video, St. Patrick's Day & the Story of St. Patrick, tells it from the Irish perspective, & a fun little short, St. Patrick's Day~ Bet You Didn't Know, shares some of the myths, history, & celebrations of the day. The Real Saint Patrick~ His Heart and His Story is a 53 minute historical documentary about this revered Patron Saint of Ireland. Finally, here is a page you can share with your children about St. Patrick and his Christian witness to the very folks who'd earlier enslaved him ~ St. Patrick's Day History.
December 6 marks the death of Saint Nicholas, a 3rd-4th Century bishop who helped shape the Nicene Creed and became synonymous with generosity and holding firm to the truth even in the face of great persecution. This summary write-up shows how the Muslim invasion introduced the story of St. Nicholas into Europe ~ "Saint Nicholas~a brief history"
Click on the underlined text to learn how and why one family enjoys St. Nicholas Day.